Nationals WA voice concerns over potential reduction of regional representation in Legislative Council

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Tom ShanahanGreat Southern Herald
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Electoral Affairs Minister John Quigley
Camera IconElectoral Affairs Minister John Quigley Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

The State Opposition is urging regional constituents to speak out about a potential reduction of regional representation in State Parliament before it is too late.

The Nationals WA have slammed the timing of a discussion paper on the Legislative Council electoral review, which was released on Friday, halfway through the public submission period.

Late last month, Electoral Affairs Minister John Quigley announced the State Government had appointed a Ministerial Expert Committee to help “update the outdated Electoral Act”.

The review will examine “malapportionment” in the Upper House, where six regional seats have smaller populations than metropolitan seats.

“It is a fundamental tenet of democracy that all citizens be treated equally under the law, and it is obvious that the Legislative Council voting system is failing in that basic duty to the electorate,” Mr Quigley said.

Over two months, the Ministerial Expert Committee will also investigate reform of the preferential voting system that led to the election of Daylight Saving Party candidate Wilson Tucker with just 98 first-preference votes. However, Roe MP Peter Rundle said the group voting reforms were a distraction from the State Government’s bid to reduce regional representation.

“I am concerned the Premier misled the WA public prior to the election, repeatedly denying that electoral reform was on the agenda,” Mr Rundle said.

While the State Government has pushed out the deadline for public submissions on the review to June 8, Agricultural MP Martin Aldridge said the extension was “tokenistic”.

“Publishing a discussion paper halfway through the process is further proof of Labor’s intention to ram through electoral reform no matter what submissions are made,” he said.

The Opposition has launched a petition urging regional constituents to have their voices heard.

The petition asks Lower House MPs to stand up for regional West Australians and ensure there is no reduction in regional representation.

“There is no doubt that regional WA is the engine room of our State, and ripping away regional voice will only be harmful to the communities which help this State grow and prosper,” the petition says.

To make a submission, visit waelectoralreform.wa.gov.au.

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