The Nationals WA have introduced a Private Members Bill to State Parliament, aimed at the creation of two additional electoral districts in Western Australia by 2021.
State President of The Nationals WA, James Hayward, said The Constitution and Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 was essential legislation to ensure regional voters continued to have strong and effective representation in State Parliament.
Mr Hayward said the abolition of the regional electorate of Eyre ahead of the 2017 State election, combined with massive population growth had prompted the proposed reforms.
“Over the past decade, WA has seen unprecedented population growth, with the addition of some 581,500 new residents.
“Members of Parliament are now responsible for more constituents and in the case of many regional districts, larger geographical boundaries than ever before.”
Mr Hayward said without legislative change, regional electorates would continue to become larger and more difficult to represent.
“Many regional electorates now have geographical boundaries on par with European countries. The newly created electorate of Roe – formed largely by merging the districts of Wagin and Eyre – is more than 106,000 square kilometres, roughly the same size as Greece.
“Northern electoral districts are even more disadvantaged in geographic terms. The newly expanded electorate of North West Central is one of the world’s largest electorates at over 817,000 square kilometres – the size of Italy and Spain combined.”
Mr Hayward said The Nationals had a strong track record of delivering for their large regional electorates, but regional residents deserved better.
“No amount of technology or travel can make up for the value of having a locally available and accessible Member of Parliament.
“The current situation has created an inequitable imbalance where regional residents are not afforded the same opportunities as those who live in the city.”
Mr Hayward said metropolitan voters were also disadvantaged by the current electoral boundaries, with city MPs now responsible to more constituents than ever before.
“It’s time to appropriately recognise this challenge and increase the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly to ensure all West Australians can be better represented.”
The Constitution and Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 will be debated in May, and if successful, the WA Electoral Commission would be responsible for selecting the size and location of the new electorates based on population changes.
“It will not necessarily mean two more regional MPs or two city MPs, it will be a decision of the commissioner,” Mr Hayward said.
Minister for Electoral Affairs, Peter Collier MLC, has indicated potential support for the proposal, stating that Government’s should be prepared to review the size of the Legislative Assembly according to population.
For media enquiries contact James Hayward, State President of The Nationals WA on 0427 448 700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org