Call for change in the elec­toral sys­tem

Pilbara News - - Election 2017 - Shane Wright

A vote cast in the State’s vast Min­ing and Pas­toral re­gion will be worth al­most six times as much as one de­liv­ered by a voter in sub­ur­ban Perth amid warn­ings the Up­per House elec­toral sys­tem is com­pletely dis­torted.

Ahead of next week’s poll, WA Elec­toral Com­mis­sion fig­ures show there are now just 68,480 peo­ple on the Min­ing and Pas­toral divi­sion roll, a fall of more than 7 per cent from the 2013 elec­tion.

South Met­ro­pol­i­tan is now the big­gest divi­sion with al­most 410,000 vot­ers on the roll af­ter adding more than 54,000 elec­tors over the past four years.

Each divi­sion re­turns six mem­bers but a can­di­date in the Min­ing and Pas­toral divi­sion will need to col­lect al­most 50,000 fewer votes than a suc­cess­ful can­di­date in South Metro.

North Metro (391,167 vot­ers), East Metro (395,451) and South West (226,051) all have far more on the roll than Min­ing and Pas­toral does.

Min­ing and Pas­toral, to­gether with the Agri­cul­tural divi­sion, will ac­count for 10 per cent of the to­tal vote on polling day but re­turn a third of Up­per House mem­bers.

ABC elec­tion an­a­lyst Antony Green said it was clear the dis­par­ity be­tween the Min­ing and Pas­toral divi­sion and the rest of the State would grow, adding the sys­tem would have to change.

“The pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing in Perth and the South West but it’s not grow­ing in the Agri­cul­tural or the Min­ing and Pas­toral ar­eas,” he said.

“The only way this is go­ing to change is if the La­bor and Lib­eral par­ties join to­gether, and that will be to the detri­ment of the Na­tion­als in the Up­per House.”

Mr Green’s own re­search shows that in 1989, a Min­ing and Pas­toral vote was worth 3.3 votes in met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas. This had reached 4.8 at the last elec­tion and will be 5.8 at this poll.

He said the quota to be suc­cess­fully elected in the Min­ing and Pas­toral divi­sion was also re­duced be­cause of its rel­a­tively low voter turnout, which was less than 80 per cent at the 2013 elec­tion.

Colin Bar­nett would not be drawn on the is­sue, but said the cur­rent elec­toral sys­tem was set up by the pre­vi­ous La­bor Gov­ern­ment.

“I would sug­gest you ask the La­bor peo­ple who set it up,” the Premier said.

Op­po­si­tion leader Mark McGowan would not be drawn on whether the fig­ures showed the Up­per House needed to change.

“We have no plans for fur­ther elec­toral re­form,” he said.

“WA La­bor’s fo­cus is on di­ver­si­fy­ing the econ­omy and putting WA jobs first, and stop­ping the pri­vati­sa­tion of Western Power.”

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