The Nationals WA have urged the McGowan Government’s Ministerial Expert Committee on Electoral Reform to consider the negative impacts of reducing representation in the Legislative Council for regional Western Australia.
The Nationals’ submission focused on three key recommendations:
- Supporting those living in regional and remote WA who have an expectation and a democratic right to be able to reasonably access their Members of Parliament.
- Supporting the retention of the current model for the Legislative Council, consisting of six electoral regions each electing six Members, thereby providing electoral equality for those living in regional and remote communities.
- Supporting the removal of Group Voting Tickets, to be replaced with an optional preferential system of voting, similar to the Senate voting system used in Federal elections.
State President Tony Crook said while The Nationals appreciated the opportunity to provide a submission, the Party remained sceptical of the process.
“The Nationals are not opposed to sensible reforms to remove preference harvesting, however, we have grave concerns about Labor’s pursuit of one vote one value,” Mr Crook said.
“The whole process has been hastily put together for political gain by the McGowan Government to take advantage of their massive majority in both Houses of Parliament.
“There is no compelling reason to reduce the number of regional representatives in the Legislative Council.
“The current system provides for equal numbers of Members from metropolitan Perth and regional areas providing equal representation in the House of Parliament that reviews legislation and Government policy.”
Mr Crook said that by the numbers, it was clear that electoral outcomes for regional people are anything but equal and pursuing one vote one value would disenfranchise regional communities.
A former Chair of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, he said health, mental health and life expectancy outcomes were significantly worse in regional areas.
“There remain limited health services in many regional areas, and access to necessary specialist treatment in Perth comes with a significant time and financial cost, something that is taken for granted by those in the metropolitan region,” he said.
Leader of The Nationals Hon Mia Davies said disadvantage in regional WA remained real and significant.
“Regional communities face challenges related to higher cost-of-living, expensive transportation costs including airfares, reliable telecommunications essential for families and businesses, as well as greater exposure to the impacts of drought and bushfires,” she said.
“Advocacy for these issues will diminish if regional political representation is reduced – it’s simply a numbers game and regional WA loses every time.
“It is critical that regional communities maintain their current access to local representation to address the gaps they are currently facing and advocate on important issues.”