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Issue #1772      April 5, 2017

Outcome

Western Australian Upper House decided

In Western Australia on Saturday March 25, two weeks after the State Election, the WA Electoral Commission announced the composition of the Legislative Council, following the distribution of preferences.

The Australian Labor Party increased their representation to 14 seats, the Liberals saw their nearly cut by half to 9 seats, Nationals 4, Greens doubled to 4 seats, One Nation has 3 seats, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers retain their 1 seat and the Liberal Democrats have acquired 1 seat.

The result for the Greens sees the re-election of Mining and Pastoral stalwart Robin Chapple (Chapple was first elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council on February 10, 2001; he is the first member of The Greens WA ever elected for the vast Mining and Pastoral Region). And while it sees the return to parliament after an absence of four years of the Greens’ Alison Xamon – a workers rights and mental health advocate – it also sees the departure of high profile Greens MP Lynn McLaren – a tireless campaigner for a halt to the controversial Roe 8 Freeway extension through the Beeliar Wetlands.

The outcome will ensure that the ALP, which has the control of the Legislative Council and therefore government, will not have its own way and will need to rely on the Greens to proceed with their legislative agenda. When the previous Liberal government of Premier Colin Barnett had prorogued parliament for the election there were some particularly onerous bills such as the Criminal Code Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill 2015 and the privatisation of Western Power and the Port of Fremantle, which will now stall indefinitely or undergo significant amendment.

The outcome ensures that the "left" and right of politics in Western Australia are evenly poised as neither side has a majority. The Liberals, Nationals, One Nation, Shooters, Farmers and Fishers and Liberal Democrats make up 18 seats while the ALP and Greens make up the other 18.

The ALP is attempting to persuade Liberal MLC Simone O’Brien who was dumped by the Liberals from cabinet in the second Barnett government of 2013, to be appointed the speaker of the Upper House which would give them a majority on all but constitutional issues. Also there has been a suggestion that the Liberal Democrats member Aaron Stonehouse – a call centre manager and heavy metal music aficionado – may side with the ALP on social issues. A significant number of women was elected to parliament on both the left and the right.

The new parliament has many challenging issues important and challenging issues ahead of it. It is hoped that it will take a more progressive stand than its predecessor.

Next article – Justice for survivors

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