Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams has come out swinging in a battle to keep Lord Howe Island within her electorate.
The Electoral Districts Redistribution Panel has proposed that the Island's control should be transferred to the electoral district of Sydney.
A recent report says it is considering the move "reflecting both the practicalities of contemporary travel and the electoral arrangements at the federal level".
"The redistribution panel notes that QantasLink offers year-round scheduled services to Lord Howe Island, with flights departing from Sydney on most days," the report states.
"In contrast, QantasLink offers only a seasonal weekly service between Port Macquarie and Lord Howe Island from February to June, and September to December.
"As it seems that constituents flying from Lord Howe Island to meet with their member of Parliament would need to stay at least overnight in Sydney, the redistribution panel proposes that Lord Howe Island be transferred from the electoral district of Port Macquarie to the electoral district of Sydney."
Mrs Williams says it has been a privilege to represent Lord Howe Island over the past nine and a half years.
"During this time, much as been achieved to improve the lives of those residing in this beautiful community," she said.
"As someone who has also grown up in an island community I know full well the many challenges this brings but I also understand the importance of a focus on the preservation of the pristine natural environment and a lifestyle that is truly unique.
"It therefore saddens me that the recent published report proposing that Lord Howe Island be transferred from Port Macquarie to the electorate of Sydney.
"Of most significance is the false presumption that the only airline service is from Sydney and therefore the only means of access to your local Member of Parliament."
The Port Macquarie MP says she will make a submission to "strongly oppose this proposed change".
"I think it is in the best interest of the Lord Howe Island community to remain a part of the Port Macquarie electorate where strong and critical connections have developed that have been instrumental in the provision of goods and services," she added.
The MP pointed to a number of areas where Port Macquarie worked closely with residents on the Island.
- the provision of the only regular freight services via the Island Trader which is based in Port Macquarie and owned and operated by local company Birdon.
- access to regular air services from Port Macquarie to Lord Howe with Eastern Airlines
- access to secondary school education through the Camden Haven High School - Distant Education and the support for the Lord Howe Island Central School which is a part of the Hastings Network
- local goods and services provided by an array of businesses based in Port Macquarie and surrounds including grocery items the bulk of which are shipped to the Island via the Island Trader
- access to specialist health services in Port Macquarie
- a MOU with the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council that assists the Lord Howe Island Board with professional advice and services
- the Lord Howe Island police are a part of the Mid North Coast Local Area Command
The lodging of a submission either by email or by post closes on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.
Submissions received after Wednesday, December 9, 2020 will not be accepted by the redistribution panel.
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