OPINION: Premier may have more tricks up his sleeve for rural WA

Steve MartinCountryman
Agricultural Region MP Steve Martin
Camera IconAgricultural Region MP Steve Martin Credit: Tom Shanahan

What else does the McGowan Labor Government have planned for regional Western Australia?

We got a worrying glimpse into a possible future under Labor earlier this month when the Premier announced cuts to regional voices in the WA Parliament.

Despite repeatedly denying any intention to change our State’s voting system — an incredible seven times in one interview — McGowan announced a review almost immediately after gaining control of the Parliament in May.

And his hand-picked panel of experts, led by the well-respected former governor of WA Malcolm McCusker, delivered what the Premier wanted. The elimination of any mandated regional members of the Legislative Council.

So, in WA, one of the world’s most metropolitan-centric regions, we now will no longer have a guarantee of any regional voices in our Parliament’s house of review.

The Premier and other Labor MPs have blamed the election of Daylight Saving Party MP Wilson Tucker with just 98 votes for these changes. Remarkably, they claim to have been unaware of the possibility of a person being elected with a small primary vote under the system we used at the election. They knew it could happen and could have fixed the group ticket voting system in five minutes. They still can. But this Government has bigger regional fish to fry. So, with no mandate to do so, even worse an explicit denial it would happen, Labor will rush these changes through.

During the announcement of the electoral changes Labor Minister for Electoral Affairs John Quigley was asked how long the Labor Party had been dreaming of what they describe as reform of the Upper House.

“Only for 120 years,” Mr Quigley replied. Not such a surprise then Premier?

What else has the Labor Party been dreaming about but didn’t take to the voters at the election and might turn into a nightmare for regional West Australians.

The previous week it was the turn of WA’s native hardwood timber industry to feel the brunt of similar treatment from Labor.

Despite no consultation with industry, no warning and certainly no mention of the plan during the recent election campaign, the Premier and his Forestry Minister Dave Kelly took a drive out to the Perth Hills and announced the closure of the hardwood sector.

A sustainable and long-term provider of jobs and income across the South West, the native hardwood timber industry now faces an uncertain future.

People from Geraldton and the Mid West might remember Mr Kelly — he thought he knew how to run the crayfish industry during Labor’s first term.

What else might have been deliberately hidden from view during the campaign but about to emerge from Labor.

The local government sector, especially the smaller regional councils, might be anxiously looking over their collective shoulders.

Livestock producers, irrigated agriculture, gas producers. What other sectors don’t rate well in opinion polls filled out by people who live in the suburbs of Perth?

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