Murray in for a change

April 12, 2018

Todayís Reflections photo is of Harold Betson and Pastor Doug Nichols. The photo was taken in 1966 and is from the Riverine Herald archives.

The Australian Electoral Commission is proposing the name of the Murray electorate, which includes Avenel and Nagambie, be changed to Nicholls.

A committee looking at the redistribution of Federal electorates is suggesting changes to the boundaries of Murray and proposing the name change in recognition of Sir Doug Nicholls and Lady Gladys Nicholls and their significant contributions in advocacy for Aboriginal rights and welfare.

In a statement on the proposed changes, the committee noted the name ‘‘Murray’’ was ‘‘essentially a duplication of the neighbouring division’s name’’ as ‘‘Indi’’ was ‘‘an Aboriginal name for the Murray River’’.

The Nicholls worked together to improve conditions for people across Australia, the report said.

Sir Doug was a professional athlete, pastor and the inaugural chairman of the National Aboriginal Sports Foundation, while Lady Gladys co-founded the Women’s Auxiliary of the Aborigines Advancement League.

Boundary redistribution is required to pave the way for an additional electorate in Victoria. The division of ‘‘Fraser’’ would be created, with Murray and three other electorates to be renamed under the proposal.

‘‘The high population growth in Victoria together with the dispersed spread of electors has resulted in the Redistribution Committee proposing significant change to Victoria’s electoral division boundaries,’’ Committee and Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said.

The proposal would also see an increase to the number of electors in the divisions of Mallee and Wannon in western Victoria by transferring electors from four electorates, including Murray.

Under the proposal, it appears Euroa and Violet Town would be relocated to the Indi electorate, while Seymour, Tallarook and surrounds would fall inside the Nicholls electorate.

Enrolment in Murray in September last year was recorded at 105650. This was projected to rise to about 106650 enrolments by August next year, with about one per cent projected growth.

The new Nicholls electorate would have a projected 109175 enrolments in August next year, leading to a net gain of about 3000 electors, and span about 14750sqkm.

There had recently been concern voiced that the Murray electorate could be abolished and redistributed ahead of the report’s recommendations being released.

Mr Rogers said the committee was faced with the task of inserting a new electoral division while also bringing all 38 divisions within quotas.

‘‘The proposed new division has been inserted into Melbourne’s west, reflecting population growth in that area,’’ the report noted.

‘‘A number of consequential changes were made across the state to not only meet the numerical criteria but also align communities of interest, where possible.’’

Fraser, Gillard and Hawke had initially been suggested as new names for Murray in the recommendations report, after former Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser, Julia Gillard and Bob Hawke.

Objections to the proposal are being received by the AEC until May 4.

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