With
Labor back in the West, Premier Geoff Gallop is sure to push on with
the “one vote, one value” legislation to end the state’s outrageous
electoral malapportionment that foundered last term in the courts.

New Liberal leader Matt Birney is already in trouble over his links with Crikey’s very own Noel Crichton-Browne – Day one and Lib leader’s in strife – but even the troglodytic right of the WA Liberals may be ready to act.

Labor
has failed to secure the absolute Upper House majority it needs to pass
new electoral laws, winning 16 spots, the Coalition 16, with the Greens
grabbing two. The ALP will be able to pass general legislation with the
support of the Greens, but once one of its MPs has been installed as
president, it will not have the absolute majority it needs to achieve
electoral reform.

There is, however, a quaint local custom that
may give Gallop the edge. The Upper House doesn’t change over until
late May and a vote may be there for the taking. Liberals still
remember how the Nats did a deal with Brian Burke back in 1987 to
change Legislative Council voting to proportional representation.

The
Nats were chasing the balance of power – a shrewd move from their point
of view. However, other minor parties won seats, too – first the
Democrats, then the Greens and then One Nation.

The Liberals
were left out of the loop back then – and the Nat’s deals with the
Greens this election have sparked such a backlash that there have been
fears the Coalition would split (‘Tuckey blamed for Coalition woes‘). The time may now be ripe for a change.

One
former member is certainly leaning that way. Alan Cadby resigned from
the Liberal Party last June, but remains an MLC until May. He has
already signalled his willingness to talk to Labor about one vote, one
value.

Democracy may yet come to the West.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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