Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    State Government committed to electoral equality

    30/03/2005 12:00 AM

    The State Government will introduce its One Vote One Value Bill into Parliament this week to give equal voting rights to all Western Australians.

    Attorney General Jim McGinty said the Gallop Government was committed to the principle of electoral equality.

    "Every other Parliament in Australia is elected on the fundamental basis that every citizen has an equal say in electing their government," Mr McGinty said.

    "But in Western Australia, people in country areas get two, three and even four times the say of people in Perth when electing their government.

    “Vote weighting is corrupt and cannot be justified in a modern, democratic society. It is simply not fair.”

    In the Legislative Assembly, for example, the metropolitan seat of Wanneroo had 31,413 electors whereas Liberal Leader Matt Birney’s seat of Kalgoorlie had just 12,837 voters.

    Mr McGinty said the situation was even more pronounced in the Legislative Council where one MP was elected for every 55,571 voters in the North Metropolitan Region compared with one MP for every 13,648 electors in the Mining and Pastoral Region.

    The Attorney General said under the Government’s electoral reforms, all lower house electorates in the State would have approximately the same number of voters - with a 10 per cent tolerance.

    Mr McGinty said that the legislation would protect the five existing seats in the Mining and Pastoral Region to recognise the truly remote nature of the area.

    “The seats in the Mining and Pastoral Region cover a land area of more than 2.2 million square kilometres - about 87 per cent of the entire State,” he said.

    “It is important that people who live in these regions are properly represented so that their unique needs are met by government.

    “We think this gets the balance right between equal voting rights for all Western Australians and proper representation for people in rural and remote areas.

    “The reforms we are proposing are similar to the electoral changes introduced in Queensland where similar geographic circumstances exist.”

    Mr McGinty said the Legislative Council would be restructured to increase the number of members from 34 to 36.

    This would see the three city regions (North, East and South Metropolitan) returning seven members each and the three country regions (Mining and Pastoral, Agricultural and South-West) each returning five members.

    Currently the South and East Metropolitan Regions returned five members each and the South-West seven members.

    “The restructure of the council creates a more even balance while recognising the need for regional representation in our Parliament,” Mr McGinty said.

    The Attorney General urged the Liberal and National Parties to honestly inform country people about the Government's move to give everyone in WA an equal say in electing their Members of Parliament.

    "The electoral laws of every other State and Territory and the Commonwealth have already adopted the principle of equal voting rights,” Mr McGinty said.

    The Government will need an absolute majority in the Legislative Council - that is 18 of the 34 votes - to pass its One Vote One Value Bill.

    Attorney General's office: - 9220 5000