Western Australian Legislative Assembly


Western Australian Legislative Assembly

Infobox Legislature
name = Western Australian Legislative Assembly
coa_pic =
coa_res =
coa-pic =
coa-res =
session_room =
house_type = Lower house
houses =
leader1_type = Speaker
leader1 = Fred Riebeling
party1 = Labor Party
election1 = May 1, 2001
leader2_type =
leader2 =
party2 =
election2 =
members = 59
p_groups = Labor party
Liberal Party
National Party
Independent
election3 = 6 September, 2008
meeting_place = Parliament House, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
website = [http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/web/newwebparl.nsf/iframewebpages/Legislative+assembly www.parliament.wa.gov.au]

The Legislative Assembly, or lower house, is one of the two chambers of parliament in the Australian state of Western Australia. It sits in Parliament House in the state capital, Perth.

The Legislative Assembly today has 59 members, elected for four-year terms from single-member electoral districts. Members are elected using the preferential voting system. As with all other Australian states and territories, voting is compulsory for all those over the legal voting age of 18.

Role and operation

Most legislation is initiated in the Legislative Assembly. The party or coalition with the most seats in the lower house is invited by the Governor to form a government. The leader of that party, once sworn in, subsequently becomes the Premier of Western Australia, and a team of the leader's, party's or coalition's choosing (whether they be in the Legislative Assembly or in the Legislative Council) can then be sworn in as ministers responsible for various portfolios. As Australian political parties traditionally vote along party lines, most legislation introduced by the governing party will pass through the House of Assembly.

History

The Legislative Assembly was the first elected legislature in Western Australia, having been created in 1890, when Western Australia gained self-government. It initially consisted of 30 members, all of who were elected although only male landowners could vote. This replaced a system where the Governor was responsible for most legislative matters, with only the appointed Legislative Council to guide him.

Suffrage was extended to all adult males in 1893, although Indigenous Australians were specifically excluded. Women gained the right to vote in 1899, making Western Australia the second of the Australian colonies (behind South Australia) to do so. In 1921, Edith Cowan became the first woman to be elected to parliament anywhere in Australia when she won the Legislative Assembly seat of West Perth for the Nationalist Party.

Electoral distribution and reform

Western Australia uses a zonal electoral system for both its houses of parliament. In most Australian jurisdictions, each seat in the Legislative Assembly represents an approximately equal number of voters. However, in Western Australia, as at 30 September 2007, an MP may represent 28,519 metropolitan voters within the Metropolitan Region Scheme area, or 14,551 country voters. [cite web|url=http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/download/September%20enrolment%20statistics%202.pdf|title=September enrolment statistics|author=Western Australian Electoral Commission|date=30 September 2007|accessdate=2008-01-15] At the 2006 census taken on 8 August 2006, 73.76% of Western Australia's residents lived in the metropolitan region [Census 2006 AUS|id=505|name=Perth (Statistical Division)|accessdate=2008-01-15|quick=on * Census 2006 AUS|id=5|name=Western Australia|accessdate=2008-01-15|quick=on] , but only 34 of Western Australia's 57 Legislative Assembly seats, representing 60% of the total, were located in the metropolitan region. There has been strong support over time in some quarters for the principle of one vote one value, particularly from the Australian Labor Party who were at particular disadvantage under the system. Up until 2005, reform had proceeded gradually—the most dramatic changes had occurred with the enactment of the "Electoral Districts Act 1947" and the "Acts Amendment (Electoral Reform) Act 1987", the latter of which raised the number of metropolitan seats from 29 to 34. [cite hansard|url=http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/hansard/hans35.nsf/451a59fb51257dd248256c85002bc738/45447a522344bfd248256ab100064de1?OpenDocument|house=Western Australian Legislative Assembly|date=1 August 2001|page_start=1855|page_end=1856] On 20 May 2005, with the official enactment of the "Electoral Amendment and Repeal Act 2005" (No.1 of 2005), the distinction was abolished, but all seats presently in place will remain until the next election, currently scheduled for September 6, 2008. A redistribution of seats announced by the Western Australian Electoral Commission on 29 October 2007 which places 42 seats in the metropolitan area and 17 in the country, with the only distinction being that any seat with an area of convert|100000|km2|sqmi|0 or greater (that is, 4% of the State's land area) may have a variation from the state norm of 21,350 voters in excess of the ±10% normally permitted.

Current distribution of Assembly seats

ee also

*Electoral districts of Western Australia
*Western Australian Legislative Council
*Parliaments of the Australian states and territories

*Members of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, 2005–2008

References


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