The Nationals want two extra State MPs

26 Mar, 2016 01:00 AM
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The Nationals WA leader Terry Redman has supported moves to add two extra regional seats to Parliament.
The Nationals WA leader Terry Redman has supported moves to add two extra regional seats to Parliament.

THE Nationals WA want to add two extra MPs to State parliament to ease the demands on regional MPs dealing with expanding electorates.

Agriculture Region MP Martin Aldridge introduced a Private Members Bill last week to increase the number of State electorates from 59 to 61, in time for the 2021 poll.

Electoral Affairs Minister Peter Collier and The Nationals leader Terry Redman have supported the proposal, saying the State's Legislative Assembly should be prepared to review its size according to enrolment trends because voters in large seats are not properly represented.

"The newly created Roe electorate, formed by merging the districts of Eyre and Wagin, is more than 106,000 square kilometres, making it roughly the size of Greece, with a single member of parliament to represent this vast and diverse electorate,'' Mr Aldridge said.

"Northern electoral districts are even more disadvantaged in geographic terms. The newly expanded electorate of North West Central is one of the world's largest electorates at over 817,000km2 - the size of Italy and Spain combined.''

Mr Aldridge said latest enrolment statistics showed that, on average, each member of parliament is responsible to 25,170 voters, up from 21,350 voters when new districts were added to the electoral map in 2007.

"The creation of two new districts will help to address this situation," he said.

Mr Aldridge said while regional electoral boundaries had increased considerably over the past decade, the resources afforded to regional parliamentarians had not.

He said the size of regional electorates was becoming unmanageable and no amount of technology or travel options could compensate for the value of having a more locally-based and readily available MP.

Mr Aldridge's Bill will debated in May, and if successful the WA Electoral Commission would be responsible for selecting the size and location of the new electorates based on population changes.

The parliament last considered the issue in 2005, and the State's lower house was increased from 57 to 59 MPs.

"We think the additional representation is needed,'' Mr Aldridge said.

"This Bill doesn't create two regional seats, it creates two Legislative Assembly seats, we are not seeking to interfere with the independent process in which the Electoral Commission decides how the boundaries should be formed."

Mr Collier said the idea should not be dismissed.

"During the past 50 years there have been several small increases in the size of the Legislative Assembly, but the population of the State has increased greatly over this time," he said.

"Since 1965 the Legislative Assembly has increased from 50 to 59 members.

"Governments should be prepared to review the size of the Legislative Assembly according to trends in enrolments."

Mr Redman said the legislation was necessary to allow all voters across the State fair and reasonable access to a local MP.

"Over the past decade, WA has seen unprecedented population growth, with the addition of some 581,500 new residents," Mr Redman said.

"Members of parliament are responsible for more constituents and in the case of many regional districts, larger geographical boundaries than ever before."

He said the abolishment of the regional electorate of Eyre and expansion of others in regional WA ahead of the 2017 State election had prompted the proposed reforms.

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