Future State election dates will now be fixed following the passage of the Electoral and Constitutional Amendment Bill 2011 through State Parliament.
The date for the next State election is set for March 9, 2013
Elections will be held every four years on the second Saturday in March
Future Governments cannot manipulate election dates for their own advantage
Electoral Affairs Minister Norman Moore has welcomed the passage of the Bill as a significant reform that has attracted the support of other parties.
“The WA Electoral Commission will now have certainty in planning for the 2013 election and for subsequent polls,” Mr Moore said.
The new legislation fulfils a promise made by the Liberal Party before the 2008 election.
The legislation is based on the existing fixed four-year term of the Legislative Council, providing for a joint general election when the Legislative Assembly is dissolved or expires after November 1 in the year prior to the Legislative Council election.
The Minister said from now on Legislative Assembly elections would also have to be held on the second Saturday in March.
“The Governor’s constitutional right to dissolve the Legislative Assembly remains. However, if such a dissolution occurred before November 1, 2012, it would apply only to the Assembly and not to both Houses,” he said.
A separate election for the Legislative Council would still need to be held on the fixed date of the second Saturday in March.
“Clearly the electors would reject any Government that deliberately causes an additional expensive election for its political advantage,” Mr Moore said.
“Governments would therefore be unable to manipulate the date of an election, whether to avoid scrutiny or to ambush the Opposition. Parliamentary committees, business and community groups, and electors travelling overseas would no longer run the risk of being caught out.”
Under the new laws, an election can be deferred to the next available Saturday in exceptional circumstances, but this will require the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.
The Minister said that while New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT now all had fixed election dates, the relevant legislation was different in order to fit the requirements of State and Territory constitutions.
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