THE ground is shifting under the feet of some voters in the Geelong region, with the electorate of Corangamite to have its name and boundaries changed before the next federal election. This week, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) published its report on the proposed redistribution of Victoria’s federal divisions but the changes locally have already drawn objections, including from incumbent MP Sarah Henderson.
Under the redistribution, Corangamite’s name would become Cox – to recognise the contribution of swimming teacher May Cox, who has strong ties to Queenscliff as a teacher of swimming and lifesaving – but Ms Henderson said the new name “has already prompted some ridicule on social media” and that “the electorate’s character was defined not just by its coastline”.
Under the changes, Cox would lose the suburbs of Highton and Belmont as well as the city of Colac, but would gain all of the Bellarine Peninsula. The boundary changes will make the Liberal-held marginal seat even more marginal. Ms Henderson – who opened a second electorate office in Colac this week – said there was “a very strong case for all of Colac Otway Shire to remain in the electorate”.
“The city of Colac, in many respects, is the heart and soul of this federation seat. The communities of interest between Colac and Geelong, including the social and economic links, are exceptionally strong. “I am also very disappointed that so much of Geelong has been removed from the Corangamite electorate which is detrimental to our city’s economic, social and cultural interests.”
The AEC’s redistribution committee stated it “was loath to change the name of the division (“Corangamite” is a variation of an Indigenous word for “bitter water”) but observed that that the boundaries have changed so much that it is no longer connected to Lake Corangamite or the Corangamite Shire Council”.
The AEC will accept objections about the proposal until May 4, and will publish its final determination on the matter on July 13.