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New electorates necessary to help correct geographical disadvantage

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The Nationals WA have introduced a Private Members Bill to State Parliament, aimed at the creation of two additional electoral districts in Western Australia by 2021.

The Nationals candidate for Roe, Peter Rundle said The Constitution and Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 was essential legislation to ensure regional voters continued to have strong and effective representation in State Parliament.

Mr Rundle said the abolition of the regional electorate of Eyre ahead of the 2017 State election, combined with massive population growth had prompted the proposed reforms.

“Over the past decade, WA has seen unprecedented population growth, with the addition of some 581,500 new residents.

“Members of Parliament are now responsible for more constituents and in the case of many regional districts, larger geographical boundaries than ever before.”

Mr Rundle said without legislative change, regional electorates would continue to become larger and more difficult to represent.

“The newly created electorate of Roe – formed largely by merging the districts of Wagin and Eyre - is more than 106,000 square kilometres, roughly the same size as Greece.”

Mr Rundle said The Nationals had a strong track record of delivering for large regional electorates, but regional residents deserved fairer access to their local MP.

"We now see regional electorates comparable in size to European countries, which is challenging for any regional MP to adequately represent a diverse constituency across many different communities across thousands of kilometres," Mr Rundle said.

“While I’ll be travelling far and wide across the electorate as the Candidate for Roe, no amount of technology or travel can make up for the value of having locally available and accessible Members of Parliament.”

Mr Rundle said it was inequitable that regional residents were not given the same opportunity as those who live in the city.

“When a city-based electorate such as Mount Lawley can fit into the electorate of Roe more than 6,000 times over, it’s time for a change,” he said.

Mr Rundle said the Constitution and Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 would leave the allocation of the two new electoral districts in the hands of the independent WA Electoral Commission.

"It will not necessarily mean two more regional MPs or two city MPs, it will be a decision of the commissioner,” he said. “The Bill will give future electoral district distribution processes greater flexibility in order to be able to respond to population growth in Western Australia.

“We need to appropriately recognise this challenge and increase the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly to ensure regional residents can be better represented.”

The Constitution and Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 has been introduced and read a first time by Member for the Agricultural Region, Martin Aldridge MLC. Debate on the bill is expected to occur during Private Members Business Parliament next month.

For media enquiries contact The Nationals WA Candidate for Roe Peter Rundle on 0418 959 810 or email peter.rundle@nationalswa.com