Huge change to how MPs are elected

The voting system for electing members to Western Australia’s Upper House will be completely overhauled under historic changes planned by the state government.

A one-vote, one-value system has been proposed in the biggest ever reform of how WA’s politicians are elected.

Premier Mark McGowan said the existing system was undemocratic and had huge anomalies.

“The Upper House is broken, the system is broken … today is a historic day for democracy and fairness in WA,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

At the most recent state election, Daylight Savings Party candidate Wilson Tucker was elected to the Legislative Council with just 98 votes.

But Mr McGowan said under the reforms, any “preference harvesting” using group voting tickets would be scrapped.

“There’s gaming and rorting of the system that need to be fixed,” the Premier said.

Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan says the current system is broken. Colin Murty/The Australian Credit: News Corp Australia

The proposed changes come after recommendations were made by an independent ministerial expert committee on electoral reform, led by former Governor Malcolm McCusker.

Under the Constitutional and Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Equality) Bill, which was introduced in parliament on Wednesday, electors would have the choice of selecting one or more parties above the line or at least 20 below the line.

The main recommendation, which is also a key feature of the bill, is to dump the three metropolitan and three non-metropolitan regions in favour of a single electorate for the whole state.

That system also exists in NSW and South Australia, as well as the Senate.

Currently in WA, the six regions each return six MPs, despite having different populations.

“Someone worth six times someone else is not the way Australia is. We don’t have that view of our citizens,” Mr McGowan said.

Mia Davies
Camera IconOpposition leader Mia Davies says the bill as “an attack” on regional WA. Colin Murty/The Australian Credit: News Corp Australia

Under the whole state electorate, representation would be boosted from 36 to 37 members in a bid to avoid voting deadlocks.

But the plan means no MPs will be elected specifically to represent regional areas, which has attracted criticism.

Opposition leader Mia Davies described the review as “a sham from the outset” and the bill as “an attack” on regional WA.

“This Premier denied again and again prior to the election that electoral reform was on the agenda,” she told reporters.

“Imagine making this your priority in the midst of a pandemic, with a health crisis and a housing crisis and a skills crisis.

“If they had any shred of decency, they would shelve the report and take this to the next election so that regional West Australians, and in fact all West Australians, could have a say on what will change the electoral landscape for many generations to come.”

ABC election analyst Antony Green said the main issue with the reform proposal was the ballot paper.

He warned it could result in a giant ballot paper that cannot be printed or counted.

File source

Show More
Back to top button