I’ve posted a Legislative Council guide for Saturday’s Western Australian election, featuring an overview and reviews of its six six-member regions. To whet your appetite, here’s a few paragraphs which I felt might interest a broader readership than the one it will get at the tail end of my overview:
The electoral reforms which took effect in 2008 were achieved (by the previous Labor government) with the support of the Greens and Alan Cadby, a Liberal member who had quit the party after being defeated for preselection. However, the former’s counter-intuitive insistence on maintaining rural vote weighting in the upper house produced a system which Labor’s outgoing president of the Legislative Council, Nick Griffiths, said would guarantee conservative majorities “short of a Labor landslide”. Whereas the existing formulation of regional vote weighting had been quite hard enough on the left, odd numbers of members at least meant Labor could hope for majority “left” results in the metropolitan regions plus Mining & Pastoral, collectively outweighing their disadvantage in Agricultural and South West. However, the norm now will be for even left-right splits in the stronger regions for Labor, with Agricultural having an entrenched right majority.
The challenging new environment faced by the left was underscored by the 2008 election result. The metropolitan area produced left-right parity with results of three Liberal, two Labor and one Greens in each of the three regions, to which the Liberals and Nationals added 12 non-metropolitan seats against just six for Labor and the Greens. This put the Nationals in a clear balance-of-power position and marginalised the Greens. Among the consequences was a weakened position for Labor as it sought to persuade the Nationals to maintain it in government after the election, as only an alliance with the Liberals would be guaranteed to deliver on any agreements reached in the upper house.