Call for change in the electoral system
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.”