30/04/2021 - 14:30

State changes tune on electoral reform

30/04/2021 - 14:30

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The state government has appointed former Governor Malcolm McCusker to lead an independent review of the electoral act, despite claiming it did not plan to pursue electoral reform.

State changes tune on electoral reform
Mark McGowan has stood by his commitment to retain “enhanced” regional representation. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The state government has tasked former Governor Malcolm McCusker with leading an independent review of the electoral act, despite claiming it did not plan to pursue electoral reform during last month’s election.

The Ministerial Expert Committee on Electoral Reform will review the system in the Legislative Council over an eight-week period before providing recommendations to Mr Quigley, with a final report expected by mid 2021.

Mr McCusker will lead the committee of four electoral experts, including John Curtin Institute of Public Policy executive director John Phillimore, Law Reform Commission member Sarah Murray; and University of Notre Dame Public Policy director Martin Drum.

In a statement released earlier today, Mr Quigley said the “anomalous” outcomes at last month's state election had prompted the review and indicated that the critical issues were malapportionment and group voting tickets.

Western Australia is one of the last states to retain a significant malapportionment, which allowed the votes cast by those in the Mining and Pastoral Region to be worth 6.22 times more than those cast in the metropolitan area at the recent election.

During the campaign, The Nationals had raised concerns about what could happen to the electoral regions if WA Labor held the majority, launching an advertising campaign against the party’s One Vote, One Value policy being introduced in the upper house and could “silence regional communities”.

Premier Mark McGowan defended the decision to launch a review during a press conference this morning and stood by his commitment to retain “enhanced” regional representation.

He said he rejected the idea of electoral reform before a member of the Daylight Savings Party was elected with 98 votes under the system; whilst in the South Metropolitan Region, the Liberal Party got 67,000 votes and got one person elected.

“The system clearly has significant flaws,” he said.

‘Obviously we need to review it.

“I think everyone would think that that is not fair.

“One person getting elected with 98 votes and another getting elected with 67,000 - that’s not fair.

“In any system in the entire world, that would be regarded as unfair.

“What I said before the state election is that we’d have enhanced regional representation and that commitment stands.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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