Legalise Cannabis WA Welcome McGowan Government’s Single State Model for Upper House Reform
Legalise Cannabis WA MLCs Dr Brian Walker and Sophia Moermond have welcomed indications that the Government will proceed with a single-state electorate model for reform of Western Australia’s Upper House.
Speaking immediately after the tabling of the Ministerial Advisory Panel report into Electoral Reform, they acknowledged the need for change.
“This is not a dismantling of the Legislative Council, as some are keen to claim,” observed Dr Walker, “rather, it’s a long-overdue delivery on Labor’s commitment to ensure that every voter has an equal voice in our electoral process, and we are very supportive of that.”
“Indeed, I called for reform in my first post-election interview, so we have been on board with the need to modernise the chamber for some time.”
Ms Moermond was similarly receptive. “The purpose of small parties such as ours is to ensure that the Council contains a broad assortment of views, so that it is representative of the community as a whole. That is why we have proportional representation in the upper house, to avoid the first-past-the-post duality of the Assembly, and to our mind the Optional Preferential Voting (OPV) system favoured by the government would be an improvement on our current Group Voting Ticket (GVT) system, giving voters greater control over their preferences.”
Legalise Cannabis WA won two seats in the upper house election, with Dr Walker representing the East Metropolitan, and Ms Moermond the South West Regions.
“As a regional member, I acknowledge that there will always be challenges getting the mix of representation right,” Ms Moermond acknowledged. “We cannot continue with a system where voters in some regions have twice the sway of those in the metropolitan area though, and I am confident that I and my colleagues will still be able to represent regional WA under the proposed OPV system. We simply need to adapt, and accept change.”
Modelling in the report suggests that Legalise Cannabis WA and other minor parties (with the exception of the Daylight Savings Party) would have been returned with similar levels of representation under the new system, as occurred under the old.
“That puts to bed once and for all claims that we somehow bought votes, or negotiated our way into our current seats,” Ms Moermond said.
“What we had was a broad level of support for our legalisation policy across the state, and we are confident that we can build on that, under this model or any other, to push for reform in future parliaments, just as we have in the opening months of this one.”