Murray to survive... but with a new name

May 22, 2018

FEARS of the Murray electorate being scrubbed out have been laid to rest, but a name change is on the cards.

There had recently been concern voiced that the Murray electorate could be abolished and redistributed. But the Australian Electoral Commission is proposing the name of the electorate 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, 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 105,650. This was projected to rise to about 106,650 enrolments by August next year. The new Nicholls electorate would have a projected 109,175 enrolments in August next year, leading to a net gain of about 3000 electors.

Member for Murray Damian Drum said he would rather the name stayed the same, but if it had to change, Nicholls would be appropriate.

He also said a name change was better than the seat being abolished.

“There is a benefit in naming the electorate after its location. When you talk about Murray people automatically know you mean near the Murray River,” he said. “It’s sad to lose Violet Town and Euroa because they consider themselves part of the Goulburn Valley but Seymour and Tallarook feel like a natural fit.”

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