22nd November 2021
Honourable Mark McGowan MLA
Premier; Treasurer; Minister for Public Sector Management; Federal-State Relations
13th Floor, Dumas House
2 Havelock Street
WEST PERTH WA 6005
Re: The Electoral Equality Bill 2021 – Regional Representation Concerns
On behalf of the members of the Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry of WA (RCCIWA) I am writing to share the extremely strong concerns our members have of the recently passed Electoral Equality Bill 2021 (Bill), and to request more information from you as to what measures will be put in place to ensure regional business communities still have a strong voice in the Upper House.
As you are aware, RCCIWA is a member based organisation that represents 45 WA Regional Chambers of Commerce and business network bodies, who in turn represent approximately 10,000 regional businesses. One of the key roles of RCCIWA is to ensure the voice of WA Regional Business is heard and to work closely through a collaborative approach with all decision makers on conveying any concerns or issues in a constructive manner. This is something we pride ourselves on and has proved very effective for both our members and for all three tiers of Government.
The introduction and subsequent passing of the Electoral Equal Bill 2021 has taken us by surprise, as we did not think this was on your agenda, and we are uncomfortable that this Bill and reform is being introduced whilst we are in a “State of Emergency”. Whilst we welcome some electoral reform and agree there is a need for it, our members are concerned that the representation of the regions will be diminished. That their voice will not be heard and that there is the possibility that all 37 members of the new Legislative Council could come from the metropolitan region.
Western Australia is a unique State with 75% of its population based in the metropolitan area. Our member’s concern is that this Bill may see regional Western Australians underrepresented in the House of Parliament because of the geographical dispersion of our state’s population and the high possibility that current and future candidates of State Parliament will focus on the metropolitan area where the majority of votes are available.
We understand that the new Legislative Council will have 37 members and will be a whole of state electorate. The purpose of this letter is to highlight the strong concern our members have about the Bill and also learn of what will be put in place to ensure the voice of Regional WA is strongly represented and advocated for.
We respectfully request:
- An outline of the measures that will be introduced to ensure the voice and interests of Regional WA continues to be represented in the Upper House
- An online roundtable engagement with our members at your earliest convenience with yourself, the appropriate Ministers, and representatives from your office so that our members can voice their constructive and well considered concerns and also hear your outline and views of what the Bill will deliver.
- An outline of what the process will be at the next election under the new Bill.
Premier, earlier this month we met at Hale House for our biannual RCCIWA Members Forum, and one of the main topics of concern as raised by our members, was the introduction of the Electoral Equality Bill 2021 and the perceived impact it may have on their community. There is genuine concern that the voice of Regional WA will not be heard. Our members are seeking more detail, more information and assurance from our Government on how Regional WA will still have a strong voice in the Upper House, post the adopted changes.
I look forward to your reply and to working in collaboration with you and your office on this incredibly important issue. I write this on behalf of all of the RCCIWA members who have added their signatures below in united support of our concerns, as well as the broader regional WA business communities.
PO Box 19 Floreat Forum WA 6019