Electorates

Durack

Big sky country

May 05, 2016 Jacinta Payne
Image: Tom Price landscape
Sitting Member:
Price, M (LP)
Since:
2013
Size of electorate:
1629858 sq. Km

Redistribution details:

Durack has gained territory since the last election in the Yilgarn area and down as far south as Quairading

Key Comments

Durack covers a large area, and a large range of issues. The area is mainly concerned with mining, fishing, agriculture, and tourism. This means any changes to these policies will impact the way people vote. Taxes to mining, removal of farming subsidies and other decisions can greatly impact the region. According to the 2011 Census, Durack has 16.3% Indigenous residents, giving it the third highest proportion of Indigenous voters. The fly-in-fly-out nature of current resource sector work may have changed the voter profile, as not all workers live permanently in the electorate.

Electorate Profile

Durack is cowboy and crocodile country. Covering around two thirds of Western Australia, 1.6 million sq km of mostly spinifex-covered red dusty open space, Durack is the largest single-member electorate in Australia and the second largest single-member electorate in the world.

On that count, is it topped only by Nunavut in Canada.

It extends from Geraldton on the west coast to Kununurra in the north and inland to the NT border.

The sheer size of Durack means it hosts a significant amount of WA’s tourism and mining, and Australia’s pastoral and broad acre agriculture. The electorate also covers coastal areas including the towns of Broome, Karratha and Port Hedland, with important fishing and aquaculture.

The range and scale of these enterprises mean it is a huge contributor to the Australian economy.

In November 2015, Durack was re-distributed to include the local government areas of Bruce Rock, Narembeen, Quairading, Westonia and Yilgarn – that were originally part of the O’Connor electorate.

The changes, that officially took effect in January 2016, give the Liberal Party a slight advantage over the ALP. As calculated by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, the new margin is Liberal 15.2% - up 0.3%. However, with Pat Dodson, a highly respected Yawuru Elder from Broome, recently announced as a Labor Party Senator the Liberal vote may take a hit.

Since its inception in 2008, the seat has been a safe Liberal one. First held by Barry Haase, the sitting Kalgoorlie MP at the time of the redistribution. Haase contested it in the 2010 election and again won the seat. In 2013 he announced his intention not to recontest and the seat was won by Liberal MP Melissa Price.

Durack is home to most of WA’s Indigenous communities. Indigenous issues, and the communities themselves are a hot topic right now, and have the potential to influence the election outcome.

The ongoing allegations of abuse within the communities and the recent suicide of a 10-year-old girl has brought funding for Indigenous mental health services back to the forefront of public awareness.

Alcohol abuse and violence are ongoing issues in Durack’s remote towns and communities, with alcohol sales restrictions in place in many of them and stricter regulations suggested in some.

WA Health Minister Kim Hames has applied for an exemption to the federal hiring freeze to bring more health professionals, including dentists, midwives and mental health workers, into the Kimberley area.

The rural and remote nature of the towns and population centres in Durack means employment is a huge issue. There aren’t enough jobs to go around and there has been discussion about ‘welfare dependency’ that led the Federal Government last year to pass a Bill allowing trials of cashless welfare system. Despite Labor supporting those Bills, ALP candidate for Durack Carol Martin has spoken out against the idea.

There is a curious link between the job shortages and tourism in Durack. For many years, many tourists in the remote areas of WA have been backpackers on working visas. Therefore the removal last year of the $18,000 tax-free threshold for backpackers and introduction of a 32% tax rate from the first dollar earned could changing the workforce dynamic in Durack.

This could be damaging to tourism, if it drives away backpackers on working holidays. Ms Price has said that the Treasurer plans to hold an inquiry into the issue, but nothing has been announced yet.

The mining, oil, gas and pastoral industries that dominate Durack make the environment a complicated issue, despite that fact that the area’s natural wonders are also its tourism drawcard.

Image: Tom Price landscape

 

2013 Election Results

Candidate Party Votes % Swing(%)
HEADLAND, Desmond John Palmer United Party 4998 6.75 +6.75
JAMES, Ian The Greens (WA) 5227 7.06 -2.19
PRICE, MelissaElected Liberal 28143 38.01 -7.06
FOREMAN, Shane Rise Up Australia Party 810 1.09 +1.09
VAN STYN, Shane The Nationals 17145 23.16 +5.46
SUDHOLZ, Judy F Citizens Electoral Council 177 0.24 +0.24
GOULD, Grahame Australian Christians 972 1.31 +1.31
ROSE, Ian Family First Party 763 1.03 -1.37
KEOGH, Daron Australian Labor Party 15018 20.28 -3.75
TODD, Aaron Katter's Australian Party 783 1.06 +1.06
...... Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) 0 0 -1.56

Author

Jacinta Payne

Durack is brought to you by Edith Cowan University

Candidates for Durack

News for Durack

David Trescuri
Edith Cowan University
How the west was won

How the west was won

Jul 11, 2016 The election in WA is finally over. Labor now holds five Lower House seats – Brand, Burt, Cowan, Fremantle and Perth – and the Liberals hold 11. The Senate count saw Liberals lose one, Labor gain one,…
Durack and 14 more...

Edith Cowan University
The other candidates in Durack

The other candidates in Durack

Jun 20, 2016 The other three names on the Durack House of Reps ballot paper will be Australian Christian Grahame Gould, Rise Up's Mitchell Sambell and The Nationals Lisa Cole. So what are their parties all about?
Durack
Razia Omani
Edith Cowan University
Bulls, cows, dust and roads

Bulls, cows, dust and roads

Jun 20, 2016 Is sealing the NT roads a good use of a billion dollars? It is according to Northern Territory Cattle Association. The coalition has committed $100 million but the industry wants more.
Durack and 2 more...
Paul van Lieshout Hunt
Edith Cowan University

Cranking up the youth vote

Jun 20, 2016
Durack and 16 more...
Jacinta Payne
Edith Cowan University
The remote jobs problem bamboozles and divides

The remote jobs problem bamboozles and divides

Jun 16, 2016 How to get unemployed people living in remote communities into the workforce is a policy conundrum that has frustrated governments for decades. How should progress be measured and should solutions involve…
Durack
Jacinta Payne, Ashleigh Melanko
Edith Cowan University
Fracking: the what, the why, and the why now?

Fracking: the what, the why, and the why now?

Jun 03, 2016 Fracking is a controversial issue, but what makes it controversial? And how does it impact Western Australia and Durack?
Durack