WA 2013 – the broken upper house

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Since ‘One Vote One Value’ legislation passed shortly after the 2005 election, all lower house electorates have been drawn to have roughly the same number of electors (with the exception of a small number of large seats in the north). Prior to these reforms, electorates outside of Perth had approximately half as many electors as metropolitan electorates.

These reforms, however, did not see the end of similar malapportionment in the Legislative Council – if anything, it was worsened.

These changes have been an embarrassment to the WA Greens, and have created an overwhelming conservative majority in the Legislative Council that may hinder any future left-of-centre government.

(As an aside, when electorates have unequal numbers of voters, they are malapportioned, this is different to gerrymandering, where electoral boundaries are drawn to improve the position of a party or parties. Generally we’ve seen rural malapportionment in Australia, which has a partisan impact, but not actualy gerrymandering.)

The South West region has barely half as many voters as one of the three metropolitan regions, while Agricultural and Mining and Pastoral have even less voters than South West.

Proportional representation was introduced in Western Australia’s upper house in 1989 – with the current six regions. North Metro and South West elected seven members each, and the other four regions each elected five members.

This malapportionment was also reflected in the Legislative Assembly, where Labor was disadvantaged by rules that created more seats in the country than in the city.

After the election of the Gallop government in 2001, they began to make plans to reform the Parliament to end malapportionment. The eventual legislation ensured almost all lower house seats have equal numbers of voters. It doesn’t fix the inherent unfairness and perversity of single-member electorates, but it ensured that the Liberals and Nationals didn’t have a significant advantage over Labor.

Unfortunately, the Greens adopted the position of not supporting an equalisation of numbers for Legislative Council regions, and eventually adopted the policy of creating six regions which all elect six MPs.

This means that the three-quarters of the WA population who live in the Perth area elect 18 MLCs, while the one quarter outside Perth elect the same number of MLCs. This malapportionment means that the Legislative Council is significantly biased towards the ‘right’ (Liberal Party, Nationals and small parties like Family First and the Shooters) and against the ‘left’ (Labor and the Greens).

At the moment, the most likely outcome for the three urban regions is 10 Liberal, 7 Labor and 1 Green. If the three non-metropolitan regions were merged to elect only 6 MLCs (as their population justifies) – the right would win four seats, instead of 13, and the left would win two, instead of five. Overall this would reduce the majority for the right from 23-13 to 14-10.

Last Saturday was a landslide election (if not a result of NSW/Queensland proportions) – but in a more normal election, this malapportionment would likely save a conservative majority.

This is the second election in a row where the right has won 5/6 seats in Agricultural and 4/6 in Mining and Pastoral. If you assume they were to win those again, the Liberals, Nationals and right-wing minor parties could achieve half of the seats in the Council with only two seats in each of the metropolitan regions, and three in the South West. This means that a two-thirds majority of seats in the Perth area wouldn’t be enough to give the centre-left an upper house majority.

Certain parts of the WA Greens opposed any weakening of the disproportionate influence held by regional Western Australia in the Legislative Council, and the party eventually agreed.

It’s unclear where the ALP stood, but figures who were involved in the reforms in the early 2000s agree that it was the Greens who proposed to maintain malapportionment in the Legislative Council. The ALP may have accepted the decision because of traditional Labor strength in the Mining and Pastoral region. The collapse in Labor’s support in the region at the latest election has worsened the bias in the system, and has particularly strengthened the position of the Nationals.

It’s an interesting story about how the mixture of party positioning and demographic change has weakened Labor’s hold in the state’s north, but that’s a story for another day.

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Didn’t some Greens have a crackpot idea about bioregions having equal votes? WA Nats have also shown considerable skill in redefining their image from wheatbelt rump to a centre-right populism

  2. Ok, so there is a malapportionment on the basis of population; its not nearly as bad as the one the other way based upon geography.

    If you didn’t have the population based malapportionment, you end up with 95% of the state governed at them whim and for the benefit of the 5% of the state that is urbanised.

    As it is, you have something that at least provides some tension and some restraint. This is a good thing.

    Political parties will adapt.

  3. Exactly the same argument can be made for the Australian Senate.

    It is only that the “smaller” states – Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia tend to vote 50 / 50 so the Senators are generally split left/right 3/3 in a half election that the result in WA doesn’t arise. Although the “left” won 4 senate spots in Tasmania last time. And in the longer term Tasmania is a chance (albeit small) to become 2 greens / 3 labor / 1 liberal as the demographics continue to change. Something that is not going to happen any where else in Australia. Incidentally, a voter in Tasmania’s senate vote is worth something like 12 times the value of a NSW voter’s senate vote. And I haven’t heard the “left” complaining about the 4 senators they won last time.

    Regardless, 2200 votes for the Shooters in Agricultural region to win a seat in the WA upper house and potentially hold the balance of power does seem to vest power in a disproportional few. But whether this means the house is broken or should be reformed is another issue.

    And why would the right politicians vote themselves out of office? Turkeys ain’t going to vote for Christmas.

  4. And in the longer term Tasmania is a chance (albeit small) to become 2 greens / 3 labor / 1 liberal as the demographics continue to change.

    Actually in Tasmania it is looking a chance to move to 4 Liberal 1 Labor 1 Green. Its just that our parties have adapted to the local situation here – the Liberal party in Tasmania is more ‘left’ than the one in Western Australia.

    As to the 2200 votes winning a seat – there are two things there. One, they were the least unwanted party remaining. The other is you guys for whatever reason allow parties to direct preferences, which tends to produce more unexpected outcomes than leaving it to individuals.

    That said, I never begrudge anyone their opportunity to have someone who represents their perspective in the parliament.

  5. It is my understanding that Gallop pushed very hard for equal representation and easily had the numbers within his own party (was only opposed by a handful of regional MPs), but ultimately needed the Greens to pass the lower house changes and to get these needed to compromise on upper house changes. Of course, this turned out to be to the detriment of the progressive side of politics, as evidenced over the weekend. It’s hard to imagine that anything other than a NSW-level landslide in the ALPs favour could return a progressive majority in the LC.

    Nice website by the way.

  6. @Geoff – possibly, but it didn’t go anywhere.

    @Driftforge – the flaw in your argument is that I am talking about representing people, and you’re talking about representing land mass. Of course people in regional areas should get extra services and support to help them deal with problems of distance and the reduced supply of private services, but that’s very different to creating a bias in political representation.

    When you say “5% of the state that is urbanised”, you’re talking about the part of the state with 75% of the people.

    When you over-represent people outside the city, that has the consequence of under-representing the larger population in the city – and that has real-world consequences on democracy. That means the point of view of those people in the city is under-represented in the Parliament and is taken less seriously.

    When you say “Political parties will adapt”, you mean the political spectrum will shift to the right to accomodate the bias in the electoral system? Maybe they will, although considering that the Legislative Assembly doesn’t share the same bias, that seems unlikely. Even if it did though, why would that be fair? You can shift the middle ground of politics by rigging the rules?

    Rural geography is always used as an argument to justify giving more sway to rural and regional (conservative) voters over those in the cities – many of whom also experience lots of other disadvantages. You can’t give people extra political rights to compensate for their disadvantage – otherwise why stop with geography? Maybe we could weight political representation based on income, or education?

  7. @Pollster,

    Exactly the same argument can be made for the Australian Senate.

    No it can’t.

    It is a problem that states have different representation, but it is less of a problem because Australia’s political geography mostly washes out those differences. Deadlock in the Senate is more explained by six-year terms and by the election of six senators at a time.

    Six-member electorates make it very hard for one side of politics to win four seats or fall to two. This tends to create results where one state’s lopsided result (whether it is a big state or small) dictates which side of politics wins a 4-2 split.

    It’s also true that 4-2 splits are only achieved when a party is doing very well in that state – five states out of six produced a 3-3 split in 2010.

    You would produce much clearer results if you elected 14 Senators per state (plus 3 for each territory). Each state would elect 7 at a time, with the first six being split evenly and in almost every state the last seat being contested. The ACT would likely elect a Green, but Labor could have a shot of winning 2/3, and the NT would have a real contest between the second Labor candidate and the second Country Liberal.

    There are ways you can improve the federal situation without fixing the malapportionment, but the political geography does make it less outrageous than that in WA.

    However I agree that Tasmania is over-represented in federal elections, and I don’t think it’s a good thing.

  8. The population in the cities are already represented in the lower house, 75% to 25%. If you fail to utilise the upper house to at least mitigate the situation, you end up with the tyranny of the majority.

    At least with this system, the regional areas are able to reject that sort of abuse. As are the urban areas if it flows the other way.

    And yes, it could be argued that this could be applied across multiple criteria. It is an argument worth having.

    The ideal solution to the geographical problem is of course that large cities and regional areas are not included within the same state.

  9. Deadlock in the Senate is more explained by six-year terms and by the election of six senators at a time.

    And it can reasonably be argued that deadlock in the senate is a good thing, and that we should look for ways to make it more difficult than it currently is for the federal government to pass legislation.

    Federal legislation should only ever be for stuff that everyone across the country largely agrees on, not for 51% issues. 51% issues should roll down the hill to state and local government to sort out.

    But in general, we have a major shortage of states. Somewhere in the range of 12-20 would be of significant benefit.

  10. I agree with your commentary on this issue, Ben. As a WA metropolitan based voter, I think there is something fundamentally wrong that my elected parliament has decided that my vote is worth more than 4.5 times less than somebody who lives in the Mining and Pastoral District.

    One vote-one value has also technically not been full adopted in the Legislative Assembly with ‘silent electors’ in the form of a large district allowance (LDA). In fact, parliament as a result of the LDA coming into effect, parliament also decided that it can now be possible for my vote in the seat of Perth to be worth more than 2.5 times less than somebody’s vote in the seat of North West Central.

    The arguments regarding malapportionment in the Senate are quite different from that in WA. The carve up of the Senate is based on the sovereignty of each State whereas in WA it is based on the predominant land use whereby people who chose to live in the city are penalised while contributing the same to society as say, someone who farms in the Agricultural Region or mines in the Mining and Pastoral region.

    Given the shortsighteness of the 6 x 6 region arrangement, there is a very small chance that the left will ever be able to get a majority to reform the Legislative Council to ensure that everyone’s vote is equally valued. The only foreseeable possibility could ever be (in a very good election for ALP and GRNs) is 4 left – 2 right in metro, 3-3 in SW and M+P and 2-4 in Agric.

  11. There is equal weighting in the lower house, as there should be.

    But upper houses should never be about equal value per voter. Otherwise there is no point having an upper house. The upper house is a house of restraint, and that restraint is based upon the upper house drawing on a different basis of representation than the lower house, otherwise it cannot effective in providing restraint.

    Now that basis can be derived through a difference in time, in geography, in wealth, in landholding – it almost doesn’t matter, as long as it provides an effective restraint on legislation. And whatever it is, there will be bitching about the unfairness of it all, seemingly oblivious to the fact that representation is fully taken care of in the lower house.

    You don’t need two institutions to conduct one task.

  12. I agree! At the time I was a Green member, I argued against it but lost … and now we are suffering ,,,,, We should have an upper house of say 40 members elected on a state wide poll. Any party seeking representation needs to gain 5% of the vote. Of simply allow all the nutters like the Shooters and the Australian UnChristians into the Legislative Council. One term of Family First Senator has saved us from a repeat.

  13. I completely disagree with your analysis.

    Any voter living in the metropolitan area who is disgruntled with the amount of parliamentary representation is welcome to move to – say – Mt Magnet – and enjoy what they claim to have been deprived of.

    Nothing to stop you guys…..

    Come on……..

  14. It is a problem that states have different representation, but it is less of a problem because Australia’s political geography mostly washes out those differences. Deadlock in the Senate is more explained by six-year terms and by the election of six senators at a time.

    Careful with that “political geography” thing there… it can change. When Labor reformed the upper house in 1989, they did so with the cooperation of the Nats, and at the time it helped both of them: M&P was a strong region for Labor (they held several seats there even while they lost Collie for the first time). It isn’t any more, because people who work arp awn tha moynes, ay, can live in Forrestfield or Rockingham and sleep in a donga for two weeks straight, instead of living in Tom Price or Pannawonica. Queensland Labor made that same mistake in the 1950’s, thinking the railway towns would always continue to exist and be strong for them. They didn’t, and they ended up with the Bjelkemander.

    To the senate: considering Tasmania voted for the Libs in the 70’s much like WA votes for them these days (and gave Brian Harradine a whole career), anyone who you’d’ve asked back then about a 4-2 result to the left would have assumed you were high. It’s now been a reality for two elections in a row. They changed, too. Maybe we’ll change one day, too. You can’t make crystal balls out of iron ore, so I can’t see the future over here.

  15. @Bird of paradox,

    I agree, that’s why you shouldn’t try and arrange these things to give your side political advantage. I wanted to write about the reasons why Labor’s vote has collapsed in Mining & Pastoral but didn’t have the space.

    Likewise Labor implementing Optional Preferential Voting in NSW and Queensland to screw around with the Libs and Nats has backfired now – these things can always change.

    However the national political geography does mean that the inequity of the Senate is less noticed. It doesn’t mean that’s an argument for keeping it the way it is, but it does lessen the urgency.

  16. Did the greens not give the shooters and fishers their preferences in exchange for shooter and fisher preferences in the northern metro, and the south west?

  17. Members of parliament represent electors, not dirt – so they should be apportioned based on the number of electors, not the quantity of dirt.

  18. Members of parliament represent electors, not dirt – so they should be apportioned based on the number of electors, not the quantity of dirt.

    Absolutely. That is what you have a lower house for.

    The upper house is for restraint, and the choice of how that restraint is applied is open. The only thing it really shouldn’t be is the same basis as the lower house.

    Given the distinct geographic challenges of WA, a geographically weighted upper house is perfectly appropriate.

  19. Of course the classic, original set up of the upper house was to protect the interests of those paying the costs of government. Certainly works as an alternative to the geographical basis.

  20. The upper house wouldn’t be elected on the same basis if you eliminated malapportionment – it is elected by proportional representation, which is a very different basis. It ensures that minor parties win representation, as well as ensuring that major parties win some representation in a region where they are not strong enough to win lower house seats.

  21. All you over-east folk (like you, Ben), gotta remember there’s two states with a ridiculous concentration of people in the one capital city. NSW and Vic have regional cities like Newcastle, Wollongong, Ballarat and Bendigo; Tas and Qld don’t even have a majority in the capital city, they have (a) a bunch of people in Rockhampton / Mackay / Townsville / Cairns / etc, or (b) Tassie’s traditional north vs south divide.

    In WA and SA, it’s different. The two states have their upper houses run different ways. WA does it in the method described in the original post, and before 1989, used the old province system that Victoria continued with until 2002. (I wanna move to Melbourne, there’s more progressives over there.)

    SA elects the whole state at-large, but only half at a time (11 seats per election), and they serve double terms. That’s how people like Nick Xenophon, the Democrats and (potentially) Kelly Vincent can get themselves established. When they’re not too busy making wine or putting bodies in barrels, SA folk have been pretty good at electing radicals from the good-guy end of things: Don Dunstan and Nick Xenophon, plus the 10c for cans you get in SA…. I’d live there if I had to.

    I wonder how WA would look like with a SA electoral system. I might give that a burl.

  22. Ben, although a straight proportional system would produce a more representative selection, the basis is the same. As such, the major restraint that format introduces is that legislation which the smaller parties at both ends of the spectrum both agree on will tend to pass, and that which both disagree on will tend to fail.

    As a restraint, it’s fairly weak, and its direction of restraint is going to be eclectic.

    You have to think about the upper house differently. The differences between the two are what provides the value of having one.

    I suspect there are a number of people in Qld missing having an upper house at the moment.

  23. The flaw in your argument, Driftforge, is that the WA Legislative Council won’t act as a restraint on both sides of politics: only on a left-of-centre government. The current inflated right-wing majority will not do anything to slow down or keep to account the current government.

    So centre-left governments get held up by a solid opposition majority, and centre-right governments are not restrained at all.

  24. Yes and no. There are distinct differences between the bush and the city, even on the right.

    A geographical restraint is not a left / right thing, although with the current positioning of the parties, it does indeed favour the Liberals over Labor. Its a country/city thing and the opportunity is there for any party, any side of politics, to manage that difference. Labor chooses to try and manage the whole thing internally, probably to its disadvantage.

    Given time under this arrangement, you may see the formation of a ‘Country Left’ style party that corrects to a large extent the disparity you see now. Of course some of the disparity is simply due to this being a ~60/40 election.

  25. In a sense, having the restraint directed towards the regional areas of the state is really a necessary measure to make the state workable. Regional areas have distinct and persistent differences, to the major cities and to each other. These really should be honoured by breaking up our massive states into smaller, more culturally consistent areas. In the lack of that, the small consideration of providing some limited restraint in their direction is not a bad compromise.

    Even here in Tasmania, the north/south divide is noticeable, and the state would be better served politically if it were broken into two separate pieces.

  26. I wonder how WA would look like with a SA electoral system. I might give that a burl.

    Just did this, quick and dirty… imagine one upper house region, electing 18 members (half of the current 36). The quotas are like so:

    Libs 9.0558
    ALP 6.2165
    Grn 1.5264
    Nats 0.9320
    ACP 0.3686
    Shooters 0.3313
    FF 0.2538
    all others (20 of ’em): 0.3157

    That gives 9 Libs, 6 ALP and 1 Green straight up. With two left to decide, one would almost certainly go to the Nats and the other would be an utter crapshoot, but with the unearthly skill the Shooters seem to have had for arranging preference deals, I’d bet on them. Therefore:

    9 Lib / 6 ALP / 1 Grn / 1 Nat / 1 Shooter

    A 11-7 majority to the right (yep, they sure as hell won). That would’ve added to a 2008 result something like so:

    7 Lib / 7 ALP / 2 Grn / 1 Nat / 1 FF (although the last could’ve been anything).

    So the upper house would now look like:

    16 Lib / 13 ALP / 3 Grn / 2 Nat / 1 Shooter / 1 FF.

    And that’s still a right-wing majority. In this parallel universe, the new MLC’s would be replacing the more Labor-heavy class of 2005, so the 2008-13 upper house wouldn’t’ve had the Lib/Nat majority that it has in the real world. They’d only be gaining it now.

  27. Heh.

    Far more like the federal case then, using time as a differentiator. Not uncommon in the upper house systems.

    In Tasmania, we are almost the opposite to WA. Hare Clarke is used in a 5×5 for the lower house, and there are 15 upper houses seats that run 6 years terms on a yearly roll of 2-3 seats.

    I’m not sure if it is something to do with that system or just the culture here, but the upper house here has to some extent resisted the encroachment of the party system.

    Also, we have no party tickets for Hare Clarke, which makes that system work far better.

  28. The other folly of the 2005 reforms is that they changed the regions from odd to even numbers of seats. When there were seven seats for North Metropolitan and five for South and East Metropolitan, a good election for Labor might produce left majorities in each region, which the non-metro result generally wouldn’t have cancelled out. But now, barring a landslide (and there was a four-right, two-left result in North Metropolitan at this election), the metro regions will go three-left and three-right and the non-metro regions will secure the right a majority.

  29. An 18 member electorate would be an interesting proposition. It is funny looking at each regions combined quota for the Greens and Labor.
    Labor+Green quotas
    East Metro: 3.2697
    North Metro: 2.6785
    South Metro:3.187
    18 member electorate: 9.1352 for a Labor Green Alliance.
    The fact is that Labor misread the trends when it drafted the boundaries. One could make the argument that even the metro boundaries are unfair because the North Metro area is too friendly towards the Liberals and should have a strong Labor area moved in.

  30. Not sure about your numbers there; I get 6.65 for Labor and 1.61 for Greens, with 9.59 for the Libs if I drop back to the total votes.

    I’m not sure the math works simply adding as you are effectively adding up to 21 quotas, not the 19 you need to be.

    To sort out the last two places, you end up with ALP, Libs, Greens, (FF+ACP) all on around 0.6, with 0.25 to inpdependant and 0.26 to Shooters & Fishers.

    i.e. the normal fistfight for one left and one right – so a 10 / 8 result, which is what happened anyway.

    Is it worthwhile? I tend to think not – its too many candidates for the public to keep track of for anything more than the few leaders in each party, although with party tickets that doesn’t make as much difference.

  31. Here’s a couple of options with odd numbers of seats per region, roughly the same size as the current upper house and (roughly) proportional.

    (1) 4 regions, 9 seats each. Keep N/S/E Metro as is, and merge the three non-Perth regions into one (1/4 = 25%). Easy. That would see the Greens win a seat in each Perth region and maybe the country one, while the Nats win a couple in the country, and the CDP / FF in East Metro and Country on 2008 figures (I haven’t tried that one on 2013 figures yet, but I might sometime).

    (2) 7 regions, 5 seats each. 5 Perth regions and 2 non-Perth regions (2/7 = 28.6%). A bit of playing around with maps gives this:

    Inner North (8): Cottesloe, Nedlands, Churchlands, Scarborough, Balcatta, Perth (N); Mt Lawley, Maylands (E).

    Outer North (8): Butler, Ocean Reef, Joondaulp, Wanneroo, Hillarys, Kingsley, Carine, Girrawheen (N).

    Inner South (9): Fremantle, Alfred Cove, Willagee, Bateman, South Perth, Vic Park, Riverton, Cannington (S), Belmont (E).

    Outer South (9): Cockburn, Jandakot, Southern River, Rockingham, Kwinana, Wanrbro (S), Mandurah, Dawesville (SW).

    East (9): Swan Hills, West Swan, Nollamara, Morley, Bassendean, Midland, Forrestfield, Gosnells, Armadale (E).

    North WA (8): North West Central, Pilbara, Kimberley, Kalgoorlie, Eyre (M&P), Moore, Geraldton, Central Wheatbelt (Ag).

    South WA (8): Darling Range, Kalamunda (E), Murray-Wellington, Bunbury, Collie-Preston, Vasse, Warren-Blackwood, Albany (SW), Wagin (Ag).

    There’s probably neater ways to do it (and better names), but it’s 6am, and 7 doesn’t go into 59.

    Probable results (complete guesswork) with that system at a typical non-landslidey election:

    Inner North: 3 Lib / 1 ALP / 1 Grn
    Inner South: 2/2/1
    East: 3 ALP / 2 Lib
    Outer North and Outer South: 3/2 to whichever party.
    North WA: 2 Lib / 1 Nat / 2 ALP
    South WA: 2 Lib / 1 Nat / 1 ALP / 1 Grn.

    Total (out of 35): 15-17 Lib / 13-15 ALP / 2 Nat / 3 Grn. That’d make all regions pretty contestable.

  32. You could also split into 8 regions of 5 (total of 40). This would allow the outlines of the existing regions to remain.

    In the Metro region – each current region is split in half, but otherwise no changes. South West requires no change, and Ag and M&P are merged together.

  33. The unfortunate side effect of those suggestions is that it basically eliminates the whole point of having an upper house. You might as well switch to a single Hare Clarke house with 90 odd members – say 18 electorates of 5 members each. That avoids the worst of the QLD style wipeouts, while giving you the unrestrained house you seem to want.

    If you are going to eliminate the geographic basis, some other variation needs to be put in place, at the very least a time shift. The time shift tends to result in alternation between supportive upper houses and opposing ones given that most governments last two terms and the upper house takes two terms to switch over.

  34. You might as well switch to a single Hare Clarke house with 90 odd members – say 18 electorates of 5 members each.

    That sounds good to me. However the Legislative Assembly is elected by single-member electorates, which is a different basis to a Legislative Council elected by proportional representation.

    That, by the way, is the same way that the upper houses and lower houses are structured in NSW, Victoria and South Australia (Victoria has regions, NSW and SA only have one region statewide). None of them have any malapportionment.

    Neither does Tasmania, actually, it’s just that the proportional house and the single-member house are reversed.

    I think most people would agree that electing a chamber by proportional representation produces quite a different result to electing one by single-member districts.

    Personally I would be happy to have a lower house only elected by multi-member proportional districts, and get rid of the upper house. However we’re not talking about reforming the lower house, just the much simpler reform of ridding the Council of malapportionment.

  35. The time shift tends to result in alternation between supportive upper houses and opposing ones given that most governments last two terms and the upper house takes two terms to switch over.

    It’s more of a smoothing effect, making it harder for either side to get a majority. Look how the NSW Libs/Nats won an enormous majority of the 2pp vote and lower house seats in 2011, but still don’t have an upper house majority.

    Also, a quibble: most govts last at least two terms, but plenty go longer. Of the recent group of state and territory Labor govts, WA is the only one to have finished after two. (And the Burke / Dowding / Lawrence govt went three terms, not so long ago.)

  36. Sure, I realise that going longer is common as well. The longer they go, the more likely they are to achieve a balance of power in the upper house. My point was that achieving a first term upper house majority in a time shifted system is more difficult than in later terms.

    The other simple method is to make say 60% the required pass mark for legislation in the upper house, or if you move to a single house, the same there.

  37. I think most people would agree that electing a chamber by proportional representation produces quite a different result to electing one by single-member districts.

    Largely around the edges. In our two-three party system, not so much as other places which are more disparate.

    The big benefits are being able to toss the turds but vote the party ( which you lose with above the line ) and the consistent availability of local representation of both the government and opposition, and someone in line with your own preferences.

  38. However we’re not talking about reforming the lower house, just the much simpler reform of ridding the Council of malapportionment.

    The obvious question then is what you propose to provide a degree of security for the regional areas in the absence of the restraint provided by the regional bias of the upper house? You have distinct areas of the state that maintain on a generational scale a distinct culture and difference in governmental preferences, and you are proposing to remove the structure protection they have been afforded, in essence, for remaining part of the same state as the capital.

  39. I wouldn’t call it “protection”, I would call it “bias”, and it shouldn’t exist, just like it doesn’t exist in any other state. They do fine without it.

    Of course conservative forces (and those from the country) don’t want to get rid of it – but the Greens and Labor should have used the opportunity to get rid of it in the early 2000s.

  40. In that case you might as well be splitting the state. In the end the state is a geographical entity by nature, which just happens to have people living within it. Because of this, geography always has to be taken into account, because the arbitrary borders drawn allow people access to resources and bounty that they have nothing more than a nominal connection to. While value is created by people, it also is created by and contained within the land.

    In the end, the people of Perth have no inherent right to dictate to the rest of the state how they should live. It is not in either groups best interest to do so anyway.

    It’s not about bias. It doesn’t impose a bias; only a limitation on the bias that would otherwise occur so that the distant numerous may not dictate to the local few.

    Would that the Northern Territory had the same protection from the Federal Government a couple years ago; they may not have lost an industry.

  41. We’re probably at the point where we agree to disagree about the basis for these things; that said, it been a good discussion with much to think about.

    Till next time.

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