Boundary proposal concerns

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    New proposed electoral boundaries.

    RESIDENTS from Winton, The Catlins and further afield are voicing concerns about the proposed new Invercargill electoral boundary changes.

    The changes, which were planned to come into effect ahead of this year’s general election, would see Winton and part of The Catlins included in the Invercargill boundary.

    Boundaries were adjusted as populations grew and were set to create balance within each electorate.

    In Southland, proposed changes were to the Invercargill and Clutha-Southland boundaries.

    The Representation Commission’s review says Invercargill was 6.3% below quota and “must gain population” from neighbouring Clutha-Southland.

    However, the opposite was true for Clutha-Southland, which needed to lose population.

    “The South Otago area including Milton, Balclutha, Kaitangata and Lawrence, with a population of 12,200, moves to Dunedin South.

    Populations of 3500 around Winton and 1000 in The Catlins area move to Invercargill,” the review says.

    “To balance other changes in the Otago region, Clutha-Southland gains population of 10,300 from over-quota Waitaki through an area from Raes Junction, Millers Flat, Roxburgh, Alexandra, to Clyde. Population of 3500 is added around Winton. Invercargill is also extended along the east coast to include The Catlins area and meet the proposed Dunedin South boundary adding a population of 1000.”

    As of Tuesday, 17 people had submitted objections against the Invercargill electorate boundary changes and 16 to the Clutha-Southland.

    Councillors were among those who submitted, including Southland District Council’s Darren Frazer and Queenstown Lakes District Council’s John MacDonald.

    Cr MacDonald, who submitted on the Clutha-Southland proposed change, said, “It is crazy that the Queenstown Lakes District and surrounding high-growth tourism destinations are split up when there is a logical grouping that should have its own representation in Wellington.”

    He suggested as a solution, “A new electorate that includes Wanaka, Cromwell, Queenstown, Te Anau and Milford Sound and probably Alexandra and redraw Waitaki and Clutha.”

    Cr Frazer submitted on the proposed Invercargill electorate changes and said including an area like Winton with the Invercargill seat would group very different groups of people and needs together.

    “Winton will miss out as a small part of a city seat, as opposed to how it sits now in a rural area made of mostly rural people, strong connections and similar issues across the seat, which won’t be the case when combining with the city.”

    He suggested, “It’s not an ideal solution but adding the Southland Catlins to Invercargill seems a better fit and leaves the strong rural community connected with a rural seat. Much of The Catlins will change under the proposal so this would at least mean the changes affected less people.”

    Submissions opened in November last year and counter-objections opened on January 10 and will close on January 24.

    In February, the Representation Commission will hold public hearings of objections and counter-objections, and in April will publish the final electorate boundaries and names to be applied in the 2020 general election.

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