The seat's first member will be elected at the 2016 election.
The most significant aspect of the seat is that it is a new, notionally Liberal seat, for Western Australia.
As Australia’s newest electorate, Burt will elect its first member in 2016.
Covering 172 square kilometres of Perth’s south eastern corridor it includes parts of the Cities of Armadale, Gosnells and Canning.
Western Australia’s electoral boundaries were redistributed by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in 2015 – gazetted in January 2016 – to account for the state’s growing population.
Burt is WA’s 16th seat in the lower house (House of Representatives). The electorate is considered outer metro and has been drawn from parts of two inner metro electorates, Swan and Tangney, and two outer metro electorates, Canning and Hasluck.
To make room for the additional seat in the 150 member lower house Charlton, in NSW, has been abolished.
The electorate’s name was chosen to honour a family with a strong commitment to law and justice over successive generations in Western Australia.
Sir Archibald Burt was the then colony’s first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Septimus Burt QC was an Attorney-General and at different times sat in the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly.
Sir Francis Burt was the 11th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the 29th Governor of Western Australia.
The WA Electoral Redistribution Commissioners also proposed renaming the state seat of Alfred Cove to Burt in 2015.They ultimately chose Bicton to avoid confusion.
The election in Burt
As a new electorate Burt will not be dominated by some of the long standing election flashpoints found in other electorates giving candidates the chance to start new conversations during the campaign.
Even so, some old topics are making their presence known.
Labor candidate, Matt Keogh, announced his intention to stand for Burt after losing the Canning by-election in 2015.
With a significant lead in candidate announcements the ALP has been able to choose which issues the campaign is likely to focus on.
Keogh’s campaign page claims the Liberals, at a state and federal level, have “abandoned” Burt to crime through under-resourcing of community engagement and cutting funds for services such as drug rehabilitation programs and education.
Western Australian Police Data shows that incidents of crime against property have increased by 11.25% and against people by 8.60% in the South-East Metropolitan District (which includes Burt as well as other areas) between 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. It must be noted that the boundaries of the district changed during this time so may account for some fluctuation in numbers.
Other topical issues for the election include the NBN rollout in different modes – wireless and FTTN – throughout the electorate between 2016 and 2017 but other areas have no confirmed rollout timeframe.
With a relatively young population, mean age in the mid-30s, increases to the cost of living and housing affordability; changes to and changes to the funding of key government services such as health, Medicare, education and infrastructure development are set to become key concerns for the electorate. Economic uncertainty in the wake of WA’s mining downturn and questions in the manufacturing sector are also likely to be big issues for locals.
One of the biggest issues in Burt is increasing homelessness and the struggles of services assisting the homeless. The 2011 Census indicated an 8% increase in homelessness nationwide. Though until Census 2016 a lack of significant data may be inhibiting government responses to the issue.
Redistribution by the numbers
With redistributions in NSW and WA the next election may display some unexpected results with 63 seats affected.
Although these changes are minor, University of Sydney politics lecturer Dr Stewart Jackson believes that despite NSW and Victoria having more than half of all lower house seats WA’s growing population and shifting economic drivers are likely to have more effect on state-federal relations than gaining a 16th MP.
ABC election analyst, Antony Green, notes, barring dramatic changes in voter behaviour, that no WA seat is likely to change hands but the Liberal margin in Tangney will decline by 1.3%. It will increase in the three other electorates affected by Burt’s creation: 1% in Hasluck and Swan, and 0.9% in Canning. Burt is notionally liberal with a 5.2% margin.
With the Liberal Party set to retain twelve seats and gain one they are the clear winners of WA whilst Labor is set to retain its three seats too.
The NSW redistribution has greater impacts with two seats, Paterson and Barton, expected to be won by Labor and another Liberal seat, Dobell, becoming marginal.