Bigger electorate will be a bigger challenge

As if the member for Grey did not have enough ground to cover getting around the state’s largest electorate, Rowan Ramsey will have even more communities to represent if a proposed boundary change comes into effect in July.

Another 17,000 or so voters from the Clare and Gilbert Valley, Adelaide Plains and parts of Light and Wakefield council areas will be added to the division of Grey.

With South Australia’s comparably low population growth forcing the Australian Electoral Commission to reduce the number of federal seats in the state from 11 to 10, it is understandable the relatively sparsely populated electorate of Grey had to grow but it does make for an awfully big electorate with a wide variety of industries and different interests among its electors.

The reality of representing this vast area will be an even bigger challenge than it has been in the past.

Fishers in Port Lincoln have very different demands to the steel industry in Whyalla and grape growers in Clare.

Then again, that is one of the joys of politics, balancing everybody’s demands to come up with the best outcome for the majority.

Apart from the diversity of the electorate, just getting out to visit each community on anything close to a regular basis will be a logistical nightmare, especially taking into account parliament weeks spent in Canberra.

Mr Ramsey’s most recent newsletter covering the first few months of 2018 highlighted visits to Quorn, Yongala, Port Pirie, Whyalla, Port Lincoln, Crystal Brooke, Peterborough, Sheringa, Kadina Port Augusta, Burra, Maitland, Kimba, Wallaroo, Ceduna, Iron Knob, Napperby and the list goes on.

The issues raised ranged from suicide prevention and rural doctor shortages to telecommunications and US steel tariffs – although it is not unusual for politicians to be dealing with such a wide variety of issues.

Before the proposed redistribution the electorate already covers 92 per cent of the state so perhaps adding a per cent or two does not seem like much but it will add to the challenge.

However, despite the tyranny of distance, Mr Ramsey probably considers himself lucky to still have an electorate to cover, unlike Labor’s Mark Butler, whose electorate of Port Adelaide is slated to disappear completely.