Gor­man’s hard La­bor

Guardian Express - - FRONT PAGE - Jon Bas­sett

PERTH MHR-elect Pa­trick Gor­man has pointed to the role of the Aus­tralian Elec­toral Com­mis­sion when asked about the sur­pris­ingly low voter turnout after his La­bor Party won a by­elec­tion for the seat on Satur­day.

“Ul­ti­mately the leg­is­la­tion that de­liv­ers com­pul­sory vot­ing is the Aus­tralian Elec­toral Com­mis­sion’s re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Mr Gor­man said.

Asked for so­lu­tions to low turnout and voter ap­a­thy, Mr Gor­man said “ev­ery­one” had a role to play.

He said La­bor’s cam­paign in­cluded hand­ing out maps, cards and in­for­ma­tion to get vot­ers out.

“I think we went above and be­yond what you’d ex­pect from a po­lit­i­cal party in a by-elec­tion,” he said.

Mr Gor­man got 63.7 per cent of the two-party pre­ferred vote and Greens can­di­date Caro­line Perks had the re­main­der in the bal­lot caused by the res­ig­na­tion of for­mer Perth MHR Tim Ham­mond in May for fam­ily rea­sons.

How­ever, only 62.4 per cent of the seat’s 100,737 vot­ers turned out on Satur­day.

Mr Gor­man said vot­ers he met were en­gaged with is­sues in­clud­ing solv­ing WA’s GST im­bal­ance and more State-Fed­eral co-op­er­a­tion on ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects such as Metronet.

He also said vot­ers had ex­pressed con­cerns about the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment chang­ing child wel­fare and the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity In­sur­ance Scheme dur­ing the six-week cam­paign.

The 15-strong field of can­di­dates showed the by­elec­tion was still “hotly con­tested” after the Lib­eral Party de­cided not to run an of­fi­cial can­di­date.

It was con­ducted with four oth­ers across Aus­tralia trig­gered by MPs’ res­ig­na­tions be­cause they were dual cit­i­zens in con­tra­ven­tion of Sec­tion 44 of the Aus­tralian Con­sti­tu­tion.

Mr Gor­man said he would pre­fer a ref­er­en­dum on con­sti­tu­tional changes recog­nis­ing Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple, or a repub­lic, be­fore chang­ing Sec­tion 44.

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