One vote, one value laws passed the Western Australian Parliament on Friday. Finally, Sandgropers will have an electoral system where Lower House seats have similar numbers of voters. Six seats will be removed from regional areas and eight added to the city, but seven sparsely populated regional electorates will be quarantined.

Electoral affairs minister Jim McGinty declared it a “truly great day for democracy” in WA. “We’re now with the rest of Australia, with every citizen having an equal say in electing their government,” he said. Sorta, Jim. Sorta. It still seems that some Western Australians are more important than others. The malapportionment cuts both ways, after all.

It seems to have cut deeper into the conservative vote, however. The Coalition has consistently derided the idea of one vote, one value as Chartist nonsense. Opposition electoral affairs spokesman Norman Moore says country people will suffer under the changes because the parties will now focus more on city areas. “The Liberal Party now has to work out how it’s going to win more seats in the city, if it’s ever going to win government again and the tragedy of that is it’s going to make it more city-centric,” he said. “The country areas, which even now under the current system don’t think they get a fair go are going to be even further ignored.”

Er, Norm, mate, isn’t our system of government called “representative democracy”? And your first comments are a little blunt. ““The Liberal Party now has to work out how it’s going to win more seats in the city, if it’s ever going to win government again.” Er, yes – because that’s where people live. And that’s your problem.

Peter Fray

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