It’s been a big week for Flemington and Moonee Valley: a significant planning Amendment approved, and changes proposed to the federal electorate boundaries moving Flemington and Ascot Vale to the seat of Maribyrnong.
Due to population increases in Victoria, and variable growth across different seats, the Australian Electoral Commission was required to create a new electorate in Victoria and then redistribute voters to ensure a more even spread across all seats.
After receiving submissions last year, the AEC released their draft report today. The report proposes creating a new electorate, Fraser, to the west of Melbourne, named after former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.
In the redistribution of voters, all existing 37 electorates in Victoria have undergone some alterations to their boundaries – some more than others.
Relevant to Moonee Valley, the AEC has proposed moving the suburbs of Flemington and Ascot Vale from Melbourne to Maribyrnong, and has moved all of Strathmore to Maribyrnong (part of Strathmore is currently in Wills).
Consequently, the AEC proposes that all of Moonee Valley, along with parts of Maribyrnong Council, Brimbank and the City of Melbourne should be in the federal electorate of Maribyrnong.
This is part of their justification for moving Flemington, but not Kensington to Maribyrnong, while acknowledging that splitting Flemington and Kensington will divide a community of interest.
There are arguably some advantages for Flemington residents in moving to the electorate of the man most likely to be Australia’s next Prime Minister. But does this outweigh the disadvantage of being divided from our Kensington neighbours at all three levels of government?
Kensington and Flemington have been partners since 1861 when they were both part of the borough of Essendon. Flemington and Kensington separated from Essendon in 1882 and had their own Council and Town Hall until 1905 – when they joined the City of Melbourne.
Between 1905 and 1993, Flemington and Kensington shared an RSL, a community legal service and local newspaper and were part of the City of Melbourne.
In 1995, Flemington and part of Kensington were joined with Essendon to create Moonee Valley City Council.
In 2007, Kensington was reunited within the City of Melbourne (disclaimer: I was the local government representative for the area at the time), but Flemington was left in Moonee Valley.
In 2013, Flemington was separated from Kensington at the state level and was moved into the state seat of Essendon. Now, the AEC’s proposal is to make the severance complete across all levels of government.
So does it matter if Flemington and Kensington are split at the federal level?
If you care whether the suburbs are treated as a community of interest, and if you hope Flemington and Kensington might be reunited, then, yes, it does matter.
Some Flemington residents see the separation of Flemington and Kensington as problematic – particularly as we still share so many resources: a library, an RSL, a high school, and a shopping centre along Racecourse Rd, and would prefer Flemington be reunited with the (wealthier) City of Melbourne.
Those of us highly engaged with planning in Flemington and Kensington also notice a different approach to planning across the two municipalities.
You may have noticed more high rise buildings in Flemington than Kensington. A possible explanation for this is that, for Moonee Valley, Flemington is close to the CBD and heights are tolerated. For the City of Melbourne, Kensington is residential and strategic planning reflects these different perspectives.
For some residents, these differences are important. The hope of being reunited with Kensington one day remains alive.
Those residents may be interested in submitting an objection to the AEC’s proposal.
Objections are due by Friday 4 May and can be submitted here.
The ‘Redistribution Committee’ must give weight to communities of interest as well as the quantum of voters in each new electorate.
The new electorates must have a projected total of voters (for 2019) of between 106,509 and 114,235.
It’s possible for Flemington to stay in the seat of Melbourne with the following changes to the AEC’s proposal:
Melbourne – remove Ascot Vale, but retain Flemington and Travancore; retain the current boundaries with Wills and Batman (the AEC proposes returning parts of Fitzroy North and Clifton Hill that were removed from Melbourne in 2011). This totals 113, 230 voters.
Wills – retain Fitzroy North in Wills. This totals 113,868.
Batman – retain Clifton Hill in Batman. This totals 113,510.
Maribyrnong – move Ascot Vale to Maribyrnong, but retain Flemington in Melbourne. Retain 3000 voters currently moved from Maribyrnong to Fraser within their current electorate of Maribyrnong – either from Braybrook, Keilor Downs or West Footscray. This totals 108,431 voters.
The number of voters in the proposed electorates in Victoria range from 107,238 (McEwan) to 113,562 (Macnamara – currently Melbourne Ports). This would make Wills the largest electorate, but it would still be within the nominated limits.
Coburg North could also be moved to Batman as proposed with more of the northern boundary of Batman moving to Scullin which has only 108,238 voters with the proposed boundaries.
These figures show that is not impossible for Flemington to remain in Melbourne. If you think Flemington should be part of Melbourne, with our neighbours in Kensington, or if you have other views about the redistribution, consider making a submission before 4 May.