The south-west's federal and state electorates will likely remain in Liberal hands even if electoral boundaries are redrawn under new proposals, an expert says.
The Australian and Victorian electoral commissions have proposed changes to boundaries which could affect the federal Wannon electorate, currently held by Dan Tehan, and Victoria's South West Coast electorate which Roma Britnell holds.
An AEC plan for Wannon would remove areas to the north such as Stawell while taking in much of the current Corangamite electorate to the east, including Lorne, the Otway Ranges and as far as Anglesea.
Corangamite swung to Labor at the 2019 federal election, but Deakin University politics lecturer Geoff Robinson - who lives in Wannon's Cororooke - predicted Wannon would remain a Coalition stronghold despite the possibility of picking up more Labor voters along the Great Ocean Road.
"The coastal area is good for Labor but the inland farming is more traditional conservative based. So they cancel each other out," Dr Robinson said.
He said Wannon was once a marginal seat driven by a working class Irish-Catholic vote which shifted to conservative in the 1970s.
"It's been a lost cause for Labor ever since (Liberal) Malcolm Fraser won it in 1955," Dr Robinson said.
He said the success and efficiency of Australian agriculture had led to the downsizing of farming workforces and, along with population growth in metropolitan areas, was the driver behind regional electorates becoming geographically bigger.
Wannon MP Dan Tehan said it was an honour to represent every community in the electorate and he was prepared to continue his work if the AEC made changes.
"I am ready to continue working hard and providing fair and equal representation for both my current and any additional communities added to my electorate," Mr Tehan said.
He said the AEC would make decisions on boundaries independently of government and he declined to comment further.
Meanwhile, the VEC has proposed an electoral boundary redistribution for state electorates but has not released proposed new boundaries.
The Liberal party has suggested that South West Coast be shared among two electorates. An electorate named Warrnambool would take in the city and roughly half of Moyne and Corangamite shires, spreading east beyond Apollo Bay and could increase the Liberal party's vote.
Lowan would be renamed Henty and include Portland, likely shifting the city into a Nationals seat.
The Labor party has made a similar submission without name changes and without South West Coast including Apollo Bay.
"There is a bit of an industrial base in Portland and Warrnambool is big with public sector employment. Labor vote in regional towns is dependent on public sector employment and a bit of manufacturing," Dr Robinson said.
"Labor is going to be competitive in Port Fairy and Warrnambool but they never end up winning because they have that strongly conservative vote as you go beyond."
Dr Robinson said the coronavirus had made it harder for opposition parties to land political blows on governments.
"I have been surprised how tolerant voters have been of government failures," he said.
He expected the Liberal party to make up some ground at the next state election but said he did not expect a shift from Labor's government.
Dr Robinson questioned why a federal election would be held this year, while also being unconvinced Labor would win.
"There's lots of problems out there with the vaccine rollout. But I don't think people are particularly convinced Labor can do better," he said.
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