Parties ‘accept’ Keysborough axing

Martin Pakula's Keysborough seat has been abolished under proposed electoral boundary changes.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Major political parties seem to have accepted the proposed abolition of Keysborough MP and Cabinet Minister Martin Pakula’s seat in the latest round of the state’s electoral-boundary review.

Nearly 47,000 Keysborough District voters would be absorbed into neighbouring seats Dandenong, Mordialloc, Mulgrave and Clarinda, as proposed by the state’s Electoral Boundaries Commission on 30 June.

Effectively, the Legislative Assembly seat is offset by the creation of a seat of Berwick. It aims to reflect Melbourne’s population re-distribution into the South East growth corridor.

Mr Pakula’s party, the ALP, made no objection to the change in its stage-2 submission to the EBC on 30 July.

Its submission made 13 objections in other metro and rural areas, such as the alignment of the Berwick and Pakenham seats.

During an earlier submission, Labor had proposed retaining Keysborough as well as the other electorates in Greater Dandenong.

From the start, the Liberals supported abolishing Keysborough – and neighbouring Clarinda – in favour of extra outer South East seats.

However former Liberal state MP Inga Peulich, who was based in South East Metropolitan Region, has drawn issue with the proposed re-drawing of the safe Labor seat of Clarinda.

Under the changes, Clarinda – held by Meng Heang Tak – would shift south, absorbing electors from Moorabbin Airport, Dingley Village and Springvale South as well as parts of Keysborough and Noble Park.

In her stage-2 submission, Ms Peulich stated that the “voice of Dingley Village residents” would be “silenced by being buried in a safe Labor seat”.

Currently Dingley Village is in the Mordialloc electorate, which has wavered between Liberal and Labor MPs over the past two decades. The ‘bellwether’ seat is currently held by a 13 per cent margin by Labor MP Tim Richardson.

“Being a part of a marginal seat politically empowers Dingley Village residents,” Ms Peulich stated.

It was “politically convenient” to bury two strongly-opposed developments – the proposed housing estate at Kingswood Golf Course and Metro Train Stabling Yard in the Green Wedge – in the safe ALP seat Clarinda, she wrote.

Historically, Dingley Village was orientated to the coast and had a stronger “community of interest” with the Mordialloc electorate, Ms Peulich stated.

The proposed Clarinda electoral boundaries would consume “disparate communities, covering several municipalities with no strong communities of interest”.

Mr Pakula holds portfolios in Industry Support and Recovery, Trade, Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Business Precincts and Racing.

He was also formerly the state’s Attorney-General.

Online round-two hearings for the EBC review were held on 17 and 18 August.

The final boundaries are due for release on 28 October.