Geoff Gallop

Geoff Gallop

Former Premier; Minister for Public Sector Management; Water Resources; Federal Affairs

    Liberal leader cries crocodile tears over loss of regional seats

    2/08/2001 12:00 AM

    Opposition Leader Colin Barnett was crying crocodile tears by claiming Labor’s amendments to the Electoral Act would deny country people an effective voice in Parliament, according to Premier Geoff Gallop.

    The Premier said Mr Barnett’s plan to abolish the Legislative Council - the Upper House of State Parliament - would affect more than twice as many regional seats as Labor’s one vote one value legislation would.

    “Mr Barnett has made it clear that he will seek to abolish the Legislative Council if he ever becomes Premier,” Dr Gallop said.

    “It is a policy he first unveiled more than two years ago and one that he has never resiled from.

    “Scrapping the Upper House would do away with 17 regional seats - seven in the South-West Region, five in the Agricultural Region and five in the Mining and Pastoral Region.

    The Premier said Labor’s amendment to the Electoral Act introduced into State Parliament yesterday sought to enshrine in legislation one of the fundamental principles of democracy - that every citizen should have an equal say in electing their government.

    “This is a principle that Mr Barnett says you cannot argue against,” Dr Gallop said.

    “In fact, the Liberal and National parties agreed in November 1995 to reduce country vote weighting in the Legislative Assembly after the 1996 election.

    “Mr Barnett and his colleagues publicly acknowledged that a readjustment of the current level of vote weighting between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas would occur as our electoral system evolved.

    “This seems to have been conveniently forgotten.”

    Dr Gallop said the abolition of the Legislative Council would not only diminish regional representation, it would remove an important check and balance on the executive arm of Government.

    “When Mr Barnett first outlined his plan to abolish the Legislative Council, he didn’t speak of principles - he said the Upper House was a luxury we can’t afford,” the Premier said.

    “That’s the same argument he used when he increased regional electricity tariffs and privatised cleaning in country schools.

    “And, of course, he was the first Liberal to publicly call for a gold royalty, which his Government introduced in 1997.”

    Media contact: Kieran Murphy 9222 9475