Richard Court

Richard Court

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    Agricultural Region would suffer under Labor's plans for electoral change: Premier

    5/01/2001 3:28 PM
     
    5/1/01

    The Labor Party is planning to slash Parliamentary representation of regional Western Australia by almost half and create a series of `super’ electorates in country areas.

    Premier Richard Court says the Labor Party is intent on silencing ‘the voice’ of the country in the Western Australian Parliament.

    Mr Court said the Labor Party’s commitment to change the quota of voters in electorates would see the number of Legislative Assembly seats outside the metropolitan area fall by eight, with regional representation in the Upper House to be almost halved from 17 to nine.

    “Geoff Gallop should be open and honest and tell the people which seats will be abolished under his proposals,” the Premier said.

    “Seats throughout WA will be abolished or drastically altered under Labor’s plan.

    “In the Upper House, the South-West Region would lose up to three of its current seven MLCs; the Agricultural Region would go from five to three members; the Mining and Pastoral Region would be cut from five to two.

    “To meet Labor’s plan, the most likely scenario in the Agricultural Region is that two Legislative Assembly seats would disappear and the make-up of the remaining seats would be altered drastically.

    “For example, the seats of Wagin and Moore would be under pressure to survive, while Geraldton could expand into the Greenough Shire and the seat of Greenough might need to reach up to Carnarvon and down the coast to Gingin to achieve its voter numbers.

    “The end result would be less members of Parliament representing the people and interests of the Agricultural Region and voters would be shunted from one seat to another to create super electorates.

    “The Labor Party’s long-standing policy of equal sized electorates is a key ALP platform - it formed the basis of Geoff Gallop’s submission on Electoral and Parliamentary Reform to the Commission on Government and prompted Labor’s Jim McGinty to challenge our State’s electoral laws in the High Court.

    “Labor is planning an attack on regional representation, the Coalition on the other hand is committed to keeping a strong ‘country voice’ in Parliament.

    ”Western Australia is a unique State. We recognise that due to its size and thinly spread population, we need to have an electoral system that ensures all people - no matter where they live - have adequate and appropriate representation.

    “That’s not the case under Labor’s proposals. For example, more than 90 per cent of the State’s land area would be represented by just 11 out of a total of 57 Legislative Assembly seats.

    “It’s clear that Labor wants to reduce the voice of the country to a whisper.

    “For Western Australians living outside the Perth metropolitan area, it is clear that a vote for the Labor Party at the next election will be a vote for reducing the number of country members of Parliament - and that’s the risk.”

    Media reference: Casey Cahill 9222 9475