WA Passes One Vote, One Value Laws

WA's Parliament has passed laws giving all votes equal value, removing its previous vote-weighting system, which had strongly favoured voters in rural areas.

The Constitution and Electoral Amendment Bill 2005 was passed by WA's upper house, the Legislative Council, on Wednesday night.

"The antiquated vote weighting system that existed only in WA is now a thing of the past," Electoral Affairs Minister Jim McGinty said.

"It was simply unfair that a vote in the country was worth two, three and even four times that of a person voting in Perth."

The change, which brings the State into line with all other Australian jurisdictions, will result in 42 seats in the metropolitan area (up from 34) and 17 in the country areas (down from 23).

The lower house, the Legislative Assembly, will be expanded from 57 to 59 seats, with each electorate to have a quotient of 21,343 voters, allowing for a 10 per cent tolerance either way.

However, an exception will still apply for geographically large electorates with a land area of 100,000 km² or more, where the tolerance would be 20 per cent below the average electorate enrolment, rather than 10 per cent. An allowance of 1.5 per cent of the land area would be added to the electoral enrolment to give a notion enrolment.

"These large seats cover more than 87 per cent of the State's land area, so it is important that people who live in these regions are properly represented," Mr McGinty explained.

There will also be an increase in the number of members in the Legislative Council from 34 to 36 with six members to come from each region, regardless of the number of electors.

The model for the Legislative Council is not the Government's original proposal but an alternative proposed by the Greens. Keen to ensure the passage of the legislation through both Houses of State Parliament, the Government accepted the Greens' model.

20 May, 2005

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