Leader of The Nationals WA Brendon Grylls MLA has given notice of a motion to suspend standing orders in the lower house to deal with The Nationals’ proposed reform to increase the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly.
The reform, which would see an additional two seats added to the State’s lower house, was designed to prevent any further reduction of regional representation in WA’s Parliament following the loss of one regional seat to the metropolitan area next year.
The move came following a ruling by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly not to accept the Bill citing constitutional grounds after it was passed by the Legislative Council.
Upper House Nationals MP Martin Aldridge introduced the Private Members’ Bill into the Legislative Council earlier this year, and noted The Nationals were trying to maintain and improve regional representation in the Parliament, whilst recognising significant population growth across Western Australia including Perth.
“Last year’s redistribution of electoral boundaries saw the abolition of the District of Eyre (Boulder to Esperance) and the creation of a new District in Perth,” Mr Aldridge said.
“That means despite population growth in regional WA, there are now only 16 regional seats to Perth’s 43.”
Mr Aldridge added that fewer regional seats meant larger geographical electorates, reducing the ability of regional people to engage with their local MP.
“The new District of Roe now stretches from Williams to Esperance covering over 106,000 square kilometres and a multitude of communities, each with different issues,” he said.
“The tyranny of distance is real and presents a significant challenge to both constituents and MPs.”
Mr Grylls said his move would allow Parliament the opportunity to discuss an important piece of legislation put forward by The Nationals WA.
“More than 600,000 people have moved to Western Australia over the last decade with no change in the constitution of the Parliament,” he said.
“The Nationals are continuing to seek greater representation for regional residents in State Parliament. Increasing the number of lower house seats will reduce the likelihood of regional seats being lost to Perth as population continues to grow.”
Mr Grylls’ motion will be dealt with by the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday next week.