WA candidate elected to parliament with less than 100 votes prompts calls for electoral reform

The Western Australian government is considering reforming its electoral system following a Seattle-based software engineer’s election to parliament with just 98 votes for the single issue Daylight Savings party – in a region which recorded the lowest support for the introduction of daylight savings time in four separate referendums.

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

© Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP
Wilson Tucker of the Daylight Savings party says he was surprised by his win in the WA upper house through preference flows.

Wilson Tucker claimed the fifth legislative council spot in the mining and pastoral region due to preference flows negotiated by micro-party broker and self-styled preference whisperer, Glenn Druery.


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Druery was also responsible for the preference flows which led to Motoring Enthusiasts party candidate Ricky Muir being elected as senator for Victoria in 2013 on just 0.5% of the primary vote.

That result prompted the Coalition government federally to overhaul the Senate voting system, introducing a new preference system intended to prevent minor and micro parties from “gaming” preference flows.

Political commentator Martin Drum, from Notre Dame University, said it was a “disgrace” that anyone could be elected to WA parliament on less than 100 votes, regardless of whether Tucker was a good candidate or not.

“It is hard to imagine a result like this,” he said. “It should spur debate about reform.”

Druery told Guardian Australia that Tucker, who will take a pay cut to take up the job of an MLC, would be a fine member of parliament. Tucker, 36, told the Kalgoorlie Miner he was surprised by the win but would return to WA to take up his seat, saying “WA and Perth have always been my home and they will always continue to be my home”.

He also said he would oppose electoral reform, saying “having a system where you can have the little guy have a chance isn’t bad”.

Druery said reform of WA’s electoral system should deal first with issues of malapportion, which mean the votes of electors in remote and regional areas are worth up to seven times that of inner-city voters, before “worrying about ordinary people getting elected”.

“I do not support any reforms that make it more difficult for ordinary people to enter parliament,” he said. “Minor party candidates, independents, not party hacks.”

But Drum said it was “particularly bizarre that you would have a Daylight Savings party representative elected from that region. It’s certainly not something that people would expect many people in that area to support.”

WA held referendums on the question of whether to introduce daylight savings time – which operates in summer months on the east coast – in 1975, 1985, 1992, and 2009. The state voted no each time, with support lowest in northern areas like the Kimberley, and the Pilbara, and the mid-west, with the latter two making up the mining and pastoral region.

Support is stronger in Perth, particularly among the business community which has to adjust from a two-hour time delay to a three-hour delay when dealing with east coast counterparts during summer.

Druery said he was proud of his work in putting such “ordinary people” in parliaments around Australia.

“[ABC election analyst] Antony Green said it was my finest work yet,” he said. “I gave Antony a call and said ‘thank you very much’, because it was.”

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The finalised upper house will also include two representatives from the Legalise Cannabis party, who received 1.9% of the vote statewide. The Greens, which polled 6.4% statewide, won just one seat. Labor has 22 seats in the 36-seat house, the first time it has had a controlling majority in the upper house in the state’s history. The Liberal party secured seven seats, the National party three.

The strong government majority makes the make up of the crossbench “in some ways less interesting”, says Curtin University Prof John Phillimore.

But he said the system should still be reformed. “It’s just an anti-democratic thing, because people don’t know where their preferences are going.”

A WA government spokesperson said the premier had asked the attorney general, John Quigley, to “consider wider reforms to make our electoral system more democratic, so it can properly represent WA and reflect the intent of WA voters.”

“There is a considerable amount of work to do in assessing what is the fairest approach for Western Australians,” they said. “It is too early to say whether it may require a separate legislative package or amendments to the lapsed bill.”

The McGowan government’s planned donation reform bill lapsed in the last parliament, and will also be brought back, they said.

Source: Thanks msn.com