Why we need more Greens in the upper house


There are two things we can be relatively sure of in the upcoming state election: Labor will win the lower house, and that voting below the line for the upper house will continue to seem like an intricate, bewildering process for many of us.

The upper house is made up of a total of 36 members, six each from six regions across Western Australia: Agricultural, Mining and Pastoral, East Metropolitan, North Metropolitan, South Metropolitan and South West. Currently the make up of the upper house is: Labor 14 members, Liberal 9, Nationals 4, The Greens 4, One Nation 2, Western Australia Party 1 (previously a One Nation position), Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party 1 and the Liberal Democrats 1.

Despite Mark McGowan’s record high popularity and perceived public trust, the makeup of the upper house will have a big impact on the next parliament. An upper house without checks and balances could see several years of Labor having unbridled reign to act, or not, on key issues.

If I win in South Metro, then it is possible that The Greens will share the balance of power with Labor.  

If that’s the case, we will hold the ALP to account on issues like climate change, corporate donations to political parties, addressing the housing crisis, protecting our environment, improving mental health services and so much more.

To achieve this, we need you (and everyone you know) to vote 1 above the line for the Greens, or number all the candidates below the line yourself, starting with me as your number 1 :-)

The Greens parliamentary track record is a strong one. We have been in the WA Parliament, fighting for people and the planet, for almost 30 years. We have improved a vast amount of legislation and supported a wide range of successful community campaigns from within Parliament, including Save Beeliar Wetlands, Save James Price Point, and the fight to ban fracking and uranium mining.

We recently saw the McGowan Government overturn the Environmental Protection Authority which rightly sought to assess emissions form new resource projects. With The Greens in balance of power we can make this much harder for them to do.

So, how does voting in the Upper House work?

In the lower house you must number every party in order of your own preference (not by any party’s preference). However, you can choose to vote either below the line, numbering every candidate, or just in one box above the line for the upper house.

Unsurprisingly, about 90% of people vote above the line, given that there is usually in excess of 50 candidates, many unknown independents or confusingly named micro parties, below the line.

Voting 1 above the line for the upper house means that your vote will be counted using that party’s preferences, or “group voting ticket”, for candidates below the line. In each region, different parties will preference each other and strike deals to attempt to block other parties and candidates on probability of votes. These preferences may not be what you imagine them to be. In the Agricultural region and Mining and Pastoral region, Labor has preferenced the Shooters, Fishers and Farmer’s party above the Greens. In the South West region, Shooters is third, only one spot below the Greens. By preferencing one another on their group voting tickets, right-wing parties can create an upper house that blocks and stalls progressive policy changes, even if Labor wins in the lower house. Or, Labor could have majority in both houses, something we’ve not yet seen in Western Australia. Each of these options presents serious issues for the future of Western Australians.

The Liberal have preferenced right-wing, demonstrably regressive parties like One Nation as high as third in several regions, while fringe parties such as No Mandatory Vaccination and WAXit have created solid preference deals on their tickets, meaning a right-wing micro party may get in with a tiny vote.

The Greens give preferences to parties that are most closely align to our values. You can see the Greens group voting ticket for south metro here.

There is currently no Greens member in the South Metropolitan region, although the seat was previously been held by Greens Lynn MacLaren and Jim Scott. As the lead candidate in South Metro this election, I will have a strong focus on sustainability and forward thinking, building on my decade as Mayor of Fremantle

The vast majority of Australians want immediate action on climate change. Some polling places that figure as high as 84% [1]. Yet, the McGowan government consistently promotes the use of fossil fuels, and both under-promises and under-delivers on climate action when left to their own devices or swayed by the right.

A strong Greens presence in the upper house will balance the noise and inaction of a Labor government, with policies for sustainability, economic prosperity and climate action.

Voting is often a poorly explained process, and it’s understandable that people mostly choose the simplest, quickest option. However, we need you to vote 1 for Greens to see that action taken now.

I encourage you to research the candidates and vote 1 above the line for the Greens in the upper house, or below the line with the preferences of your choosing.

The makeup of the upper house is more important than ever in this state election, and it’s vital that you vote in an informed way to keep Labor accountable.