Upper house

Commentary: equality is not defined in the government’s mandate | Weekly farm

Martin Aldridge, The Nationals WA, MLC Agricultural Region

‘NOT on our agenda’ – the words repeated over and over again by Prime Minister Mark McGowan and Labor on electoral reform ahead of the March elections, which ultimately resulted in full Labor control over both houses of the United Nations. Parliament.

And yet, weeks after the election, new Electoral Affairs Minister John Quigley was quick to appoint a panel of experts to make recommendations for achieving “electoral equality” with just eight weeks to decide. of a result.

Why such a short period of time?

Well, with the next election in three and a half years, we suspect the Labor government wants these reforms done and dusted off before Christmas so they have plenty of time to clean the air before they ask for your vote again. next elections.

So why is electoral equality a bad thing?

Many would argue that in a modern democracy, voters should have the same right to vote in representative chambers of parliament.

These theoretical and philosophical arguments assume that indeed every voter is in fact equal and is treated equally by their government.

Equality is not defined in the government’s mandate, nor in the report of the commission recommending the removal of regional representation in the state’s upper house.

Unlike the Legislative Assembly (Lower House), the Legislative Council (Upper House) also provides for members to be elected equally in six regions, including three in the metropolitan region and three in our regions of the country.

Unlike other smaller states, Western Australia has retained a model of ensuring that regional constituencies have dedicated regional representation – and there’s a solid reason for that.

It is first of all geography.

The three metropolitan areas cover approximately 5,398 square kilometers, and in stark contrast, our regions amass an impressive 2,532,795 km2.

The size of our vast state covering a huge area of ​​land cannot be ignored and put aside – especially when it comes to accessibility to your local MP.

Second, it is an appropriate representation.

Almost on all measures – be it life expectancy, school performance, access to healthcare and elderly care, reliable power supply and telephone connection , or even road safety, our regions are lagging behind – yet we have a political system of government that supports and responds to the masses and from time to time will meet the needs of the few.

Without dedicated representation, the regional OA will still be forgotten by the government and there is no doubt that the Labor Party’s plan to abolish rural areas will stifle regional voices.

But they will always argue black and blue that our regions will be better represented under their model since the number of representatives in the Upper House will drop from six to 37.

The reality, however, is that 75 percent of the state’s population live in metropolitan areas that will naturally grab the attention of most MPs.

My only interest in this debate is to make sure that the regional AO remains represented and well represented in Parliament, no matter who wins their favor in the elections.

Early in my political career, I was advised to always respect the outcome of an election – voters are never wrong.

The problem is that Mr McGowan and the Labor Party never presented this in the elections, in fact they repeatedly told us ‘this is not on our agenda’.

Mr Quigley blurted out in the short press conference last Tuesday when the panel’s report was released, that this has been on the Labor Party’s agenda for “120 years” – it just shows how this City-centric government don’t blink when it comes to operating the regional WA.

Currently we have 10 regional Labor MPs from WA in the Upper House who have yet to express their position.

We know their party did not allow them a vote of conscience.

Only a handful of these Labor MPs could stand up for the interests of their constituents and electorates rather than blindly following the party line – it could end this hasty and illegitimate reform.

But the question remains: will they stand up for regional families, communities and businesses or will they voluntarily participate in Labor plans to silence regional voices?

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