wa

WA’s Zonal Electoral System and the Legislative Council Reform Debate

This post is a detailed look at Western Australia’s zonal electoral system ahead of a major review of how the Legislative Council is elected.

The malapportionment that applied to lower house boundaries was abolished with the introduction of one-vote one-value electoral boundaries at the 2008 election.

But malapportionment remains for the Legislative Council, and was in fact made worse by changes to region representation in 2008.

The bias in the electoral system against Perth has drifted out from 2.80-to-1 when the current system was adopted in 1989, to 3.07-to-1 in 2021.

But this hides another developing bias, an increased weighting against voters in South West Region. Where in 1989 average enrolment per MLC in the three non-metropolitan regions was equal, by the 2021 election, average enrolment in Agricultural Region and Mining and Pastoral Region had blown out to a ratio of 2.81-to-1 against voters in South West Region.

Western Australia’s current electoral regions defined by land usage rather than population is unsustainable given demographic trends.

The McGowan government has appointed a Ministerial Expert Committee chaired by QC and former WA Governor Malcolm McCusker to examine reform options for the Legislative Council. The existing malapportionment of the Legislative Council’s electoral system is one amongst several issues it will be addressing. (You can find details of the Committee here)

In this post I set out in detail the problems with the current malapportionment. In future posts I’ll return to other issues such as whether Western Australia should follow the Commonwealth, New South Wales and South Australia by abolishing group voting tickets for elections to the upper house.
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Updating the Parties Registered to Contest the 2021 Western Australian Election

News 2 FebruaryMy election guide for the WA election has now been published.

Updates

5 February – the proposal to re-name “Daylight Saving Party” as “Daylight Saving Party – the National Liberals” with ballot paper abbreviation “National Liberals” was rejected.
2 February – the first of the contentious name change applications has been approved. The Flux Party will now appear on ballot papers as ‘Liberals for Climate’.
29 January – registration of Great Australian Party and Legalise Cannabis Western Australia Party approved.
19 January – the Small Business Party name change to WAXit Party has been approved.
13 January – the No Mandatory Vaccination Party has now been registered.


In December 2020 I published posts on controversial applications to change the names of two Western Australian political parties. Both applications are attempts by minor parties to adopt ballot paper party names that could easily be confused with the Liberal Party.

The first post dealt with an application by Flux the System! to appear on ballot papers as Liberals for Climate. The second was an application by the Daylight Saving Party to appear on ballot papers as the National Liberals. There is also a good article on the applications on the ABC News site.

Both changes, plus applications to register new parties, indicate that WA voters are set to face large upper house ballot papers from a record number of registered parties. It’s all part of a typical preference harvesting strategy by minor and micro-parties, still possible in Western Australia as the state continues to use group ticket voting to elect the Legislative Council.

Such arranged preference deals were abolished federally with reform of the Senate’s electoral system in 2016.

To keep track of what’s going on as the WA election approaches, I’ll use this post to follow the late rush of applications to change and/or register parties.
Read More »Updating the Parties Registered to Contest the 2021 Western Australian Election