THE Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has backflipped on its plan to change Corangamite to Cox, announcing yesterday (Wednesday) it would not change the electorate’s name.
However, the new boundaries will still largely be in effect, with Colac voters to be in a different electorate at the next federal election.
The augmented Electoral Commission for Victoria has handed down the outcome of its deliberations on the names and boundaries of the 38 federal electoral divisions in Victoria.
When first announced, criticism of the proposed changes included the moving of Colac, Highton and Belmont into neighbouring electorates, as well as the new name to recognise Queenscliff swimming identity May Cox.
The AEC noted there were 120 objections to the renaming, including the following arguments:
- May Cox did not make a significant enough contribution to Australia to merit having a federal electoral division named for her
- May Cox does not have a sufficient connection to the electoral division and is not known by the community
- “Cox” is an unfortunate double-entendre and will open the electoral division and the local member to ridicule, and
- “Corangamite” should be retained as it is a Federation name, an Aboriginal name and is still strongly connected to the area.
In response, the commission said it was “unconvinced” by the first two arguments, and that Australia was “a sufficiently mature and open-minded society to recognise the achievements of a worthy individual over any subjective innuendo in name”.
However, the commission concluded it would be appropriate to keep the existing name, “noting that the meaning of Corangamite as ‘bitter’… is equally appropriate to a coastally focused electoral division”.
The AEC’s reversal will undoubtedly thrill incumbent Liberal MP Sarah Henderson, who objected publically several times about becoming “the member for Cox” – including as recently as last week at the Geelong RSL.
There were 110 objections to the new boundaries, but the commission found that the Redistribution Committee’s proposal was sound and “any alternatives proposed or other adjustments necessary to accommodate these changes within the requirements of the Electoral Act would not result in an improved outcome at this time”. The only changes to what was proposed are that Barunah Park, Barunah Plains and Wingeel have been retained in Corangamite, which now also incorporates all of the northern Bellarine.