Labor lobbies for electoral shakeup

A proposed shakeup for outback electoral districts could see significant changes to the boundaries of Giles and Stuart, the two electorates that cover Whyalla and Port Augusta.

The state opposition have submitted three different options to the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission (EDBC) to address the problem of what they describe as "a structural imbalance in favour of the Liberal Party."

Labor has claimed the five regional districts of Flinders, Giles, Stuart, Frome and Chaffey suffer from a "problematic combination of extremely low (and likely declining) elector numbers and a very limited capacity to accommodate piecemeal adjustments, by reason of their geography and the fact they border one another."

Of the five, only Giles (Whyalla), is held by Labor and their favoured proposal would see Port Augusta incorporated into that district.

Another proposal also considered dividing Port Augusta between Giles and Stuart or combining Port Augusta and Port Pirie in the district of Stuart.

Member for Giles Eddie Hughes said the proposed changes were aimed at ensuring votes for those living in the areas had as close to an equal value as possible.

"We don't want to go back to the days where votes in some areas were worth more, and in some case a lot more than votes in other areas," he said.

"I will continue to represent the people as best I can with whatever boundaries the commission comes up with. There are arguments for both options."

Interestingly, should the EDBC choose to divide Port Augusta 'down the middle' between Giles and Stuart, the city would essentially be represented by both the Member for Stuart and the Member for Giles.

Currently the two electorates have been dominated by the Liberal and Labor parties respectively for years, making for a potentially dysfunctional representation of Port Augusta.

Port Augusta Mayor Brett Benbow has spoken out against sharing electoral representation with another electorate, saying it would not be beneficial for residents.

"Port Augusta deserves and warrants its own Electoral representation, which must not be shared with another city," he said.

"We have important infrastructure projects, services, investments, health and education departments which would not be benefited by split boundaries."

Mr Hughes said while the argument did have some validity, there was a case to be made that having two elected members would be an advantage for the city.

"(Dan van Holst Pellekaan and I) have been able to work together on some issues in this region, so there would be two elected members wanting to do their best for Port Augusta," he said.

The EDBC will draft proposed boundaries in August with final decisions expected by November 2020.