“Almost inevitable” electoral reform announced today risks excluding regional West Australians from participating in democracy.
After declaring electoral reform was not on the agenda prior to the election, the Premier today announced legislation to change Upper House elections to be effectively one vote one value.
Under the proposed legislation, the current six electoral regions will end under the change with an increased 37 Upper House seats determined on a state-wide allocation of votes.
The chair of the Ministerial Expert Committee that recommended the change reportedly said the outcome was “almost inevitable” given the State Government’s terms of reference.
WALGA Deputy President, Cr Karen Chappel said the shift would align election of Members of the Legislative Council to favour the imbalance of voters living in the metropolitan area.
She said consequently concerns of the regions would be diluted but more importantly access to Members of Parliament would be severely curtailed for regional West Australians.
“The concept of one vote one value has a logic as a theoretical exercise but in practice runs the real risk of disenfranchising regional communities,” Cr Chappel said.
“It ignores the unique attributes of WA as an electoral region, in particular our vast distances and extremes of population density that is unlike anywhere else.
“The result of this change will inevitably be even fewer MPs based in the regions and as a result, country people having to travel even further to be heard and participate in democracy.”
Cr Chappel said the State election result that gave the government control of both Houses of Parliament, ensured that the electoral reform legislation would be passed.
“When a similar change was introduced in New South Wales, that state conducted a referendum to give the community a say,” Cr Chappel said.
“Instead in WA, the government has created a process that all but contrived an outcome and will now steamroll those changes into legislation.”