The electorate of Chaffey was created in 1936 in a redistribution of election boundaries, and became effective in 1938. Its first Member of Parliament was William MacGillivray, who held the seat as an Independent until 1956. Subsequent members were Harold King (Liberal Country League), Arthur Curren (Labor), Peter Arnold (LCL/Liberal), Kent Andrew (Liberal) and Karlene Maywald (Nationals).
Chaffey is approximately 16,400km² in area with a population of about 35,000 people. It is bordered on the north and north-west by the electorate of Stuart, on the west by the electorate of Schubert, on the south by the electorate of Hammond, and on the east by the states of New South Wales and Victoria. For a map of the electorate, and to visit the Electoral Commission of South Australia website, please click here.
Chaffey incorporates the Renmark Paringa Council, the Berri Barmera Council, the District Council of Loxton Waikerie, part of the Mid Murray Council, the District Council of Karoonda East Murray, the Southern Mallee District Council, the Unincorporated Area Riverland, County Hamley and the Hundred of Parcoola. Major towns in the electorate include Renmark, Berri, Loxton, Waikerie, Barmera, Swan Reach, Karoonda, Lameroo and Pinnaroo. With the redistribution of boundaries in February 2014, Chaffey grew to include a larger area of the Mallee and areas previously part of Hammond electorate.
Incorporating the Riverland and Mallee regions, Chaffey’s economic and social fabric is strongly associated with irrigated horticulture and dryland agriculture mainly producing citrus, winegrapes, stone fruit, almonds and olive oil. The Mallee produces grain, particularly wheat, for export and livestock products such as wool and meat. The Riverland is a world-class horticultural area and part of the national Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone.
The Riverland is known as the engine room of South Australia's famous wine industry producing around half the State's wine - and boasting the biggest winery in Australia in Berri. The Mallee produces grain, particularly wheat, for export and livestock products such as wool and meat. Chaffey is also the largest potato producing electorate in the Southern Hemisphere.
Tourism is also an important industry, with the River Murray as its centrepiece. There is an extensive natural area featuring creeks, wetlands and lagoons for visitors to explore. These include the iconic Lake Bonney, Loch Luna, Banrock Station and Riverland Wetland (incorporating the Chowilla and Calperum stations). The latter two are RAMSAR-listed wetlands of international significance. There are several national and conservation parks in the area, featuring a large variety of unique native plant and animal life.
There are plenty of things for visitors to do in the region, from leisurely cruises on a houseboat or playing a round of golf to going water skiing or attending one of the many events held by local communities. If you would like to find out more about visiting for a holiday, please click here, and for a listing of coming events in the region, please click here.
Chaffey has one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse populations in South Australia. It includes, among others, significant Aboriginal, Greek and Sikh communities. Quite a few families are also descended from German Lutherans who settled in the area early in its history. The community of Chaffey celebrates its diversity and commemorates its history in many ways. Anzac Day is of particular significance to the region as many veterans settled here after the world wars.
The region boasts a large variety of community groups, including many service clubs and thousands of individual volunteers doing a range of important community work. The Riverland and Mallee are home to some of the few remaining community hotels in Australia. Sport is a major pastime in Chaffey for people of all ages, with netball, Australian Rules football, cricket, tennis, lawn bowls and soccer being among the most popular. The region has produced several Olympic medallists, a Brownlow Medal winner and many national and state representatives in a variety of sports.