Politics of Western Australia

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Western Australia politics takes place in context of a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliamentary system, and like other Australian states, Western Australia is part of the federation known as the Commonwealth of Australia.

The main parties are the governing Labor Party and the Liberal Party/National Party. Other minor political parties include the Greens, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Liberal Democratic Party and Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

State government[edit]

The nominal head of the Government of Western Australia is the Queen of Australia, represented in the state by the Governor of Western Australia. Legislative power rests with the Crown and the two houses of the Parliament of Western Australia. The powers and responsibilities of the parliament are defined in the Constitution Act 1889.[1]

Parliament of Western Australia[edit]

The Parliament of Western Australia is bicameral, consisting of a lower and an upper house.

The Western Australian Legislative Assembly (lower house) is composed of 59 members of parliament, each of whom represent a single electoral district and are elected using a preferential voting system. The Legislative Assembly currently sits for fixed four-year terms. The leader of the party with a majority in the Legislative Assembly (or with the confidence of the Assembly) is appointed by the Governor as the Premier of Western Australia.

The Western Australian Legislative Council (upper house) has 36 members (or MLCs), representing six electoral regions. Six members are elected for each province using a proportional voting system.

General elections are held every four years, electing the entire Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. The next state election is scheduled for 13 March 2021.

Federal politics[edit]

Western Australian seats in the Australian Parliament
House of
ALP 5 4
Liberal 10 6
WA Nationals 0 0
Greens 0 2
Source: Australian Electoral Commission

Western Australia is divided into 15 federal electoral divisions, each represented by a seat in the Australian House of Representatives. Like other Australian states, Western Australia is represented by twelve Senators in the Australian Senate, with six of those Senators elected for two three-year Senate terms at each half-Senate election.

Historically, most federal elections have already been decided by the time the polls close in Western Australia. The only times in recent memory where the state has decided an election were 1998, when the first returns from the state assured a second term for John Howard, and 2010, when the victory of a state Nationals candidate who didn't identify with the federal party allowed Julia Gillard to stay in office with a minority government.

Notable Western Australia political figures[edit]

  • John Forrest - first premier of Western Australia
  • Edith Cowan - first Australian woman to serve as a member of parliament
  • John Curtin - first and only Prime Minister of Australia to represent an electorate outside the Eastern states
  • Carmen Lawrence - first woman to become Premier of a State of the Commonwealth of Australia
  • Jo Vallentine - first person in the world elected to a parliament on a nuclear disarmament platform
  • Mark McGowan - current premier of Western Australia
  • Julie Bishop - first woman to be Foreign Minister and deputy leader of the federal Liberal Party
  • Mia Davies - first woman to lead a branch of the Nationals at state or federal level
  • Ben Wyatt - first Aboriginal treasurer in an Australian state or federal government
  • Ken Wyatt - first Aboriginal member of the House of Representatives and the first Indigenous federal minister
  • Anne Aly - first female federal parliamentarian of Muslim faith

See also[edit]