THIRTY-four submissions have been received over the proposal to move Lord Howe Island from the Port Macquarie electoral district to Sydney.
In November 2020, the Electoral Districts Redistribution Pane published its draft determination of the names and boundaries of New South Wales state electoral districts.
A public hearing will be held into the submissions on the draft determination on April 30 in Sydney.
A report suggested the proposal to move Lord Howe Island into the Sydney electorate was "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.
Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams came out swinging in the battle to keep Lord Howe Island within her electorate.
Mrs Williams made 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 said.
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
In other proposed moves, Telegraph Point, Blackmans Point and The Hatch will also shift from the Port Macquarie electorate and into Oxley.
In a submission to the Panel, one resident stated: "The small communities in these villages are tied in all ways to Port Macquarie. Our children are zoned (and attend) the high schools in Port Macquarie.
"Our community dentist and health care providers are all in Port Macquarie. Our jobs and business clients are primarily from Port Macquarie, meaning we travel almost daily between Telegraph Point and Port Macquarie to access work and school. Both my and my children's social activities, sporting groups, theatre activities, and public library are all located in Port Macquarie.
"The highway directly between these villages links us immediately to both entrances to Port Macquarie for immediate access to emergency services from town. Despite being on the 'fringes' of both electorates, we have zero connection to the Oxley electorate."
People interested in attending the public hearing or who wish to be sent the streaming link should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Following the public hearing, all feedback received since the publication of the draft determination will be considered by the Panel and a final determination will be published.
If significant amendments are made as a result of the hearing, further public consultation will be undertaken.
"While the needs of individual electoral districts and the communities within them are considered and wherever possible taken into account, the Panel must have a whole-of-state perspective so that districts have approximately the same number of electors," said Hon. Arthur Emmett AO QC, Chairperson of the Panel.
Final determination of electoral district names and boundaries will apply at the March 2023 New South Wales general election.
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