Western Australian Legislative Council
The current composition of the Legislative Council, elected at the 2021 state election, is as follows:
Western Australia's first representative parliament was the Legislative Council, first created in 1832 as an appointive body. Initially it consisted only of official members; that is, public officials whose office guaranteed them a place on the Council. Three years later, an attempt was made to expand the Council by including four unofficial members to be nominated by the governor. However, the public demand for elected rather than nominated members was so great that implementation of the change was delayed until 1838.
When Western Australia gained responsible government in 1890, a bicameral system was adopted and the Legislative Council became a house of review for legislation passed by the popularly elected Legislative Assembly. This Council consisted of 15 members, all nominated by the governor. However, it was provided that once the population of the colony reached 60,000, the Legislative Council would become elective. The colony was expected to take many years to reach a population of 60,000 but the discovery of the eastern goldfields and the consequent gold rush caused that figure to be reached by 1893. The constitution was then amended to make the Legislative Council an elective house of 21 seats, with three members to be elected from each of seven provinces. The first election to the Council was held following the dissolution of parliament in June 1894.
Until 2005 the state used a zonally weighted electoral system for both houses of parliament. In effect, this meant that the vote of a Perth voter counted for less than that of a rural voter. The difference was less marked in the Assembly than in the Legislative Council, whose metropolitan regions are numerically weighted so that up to two rural members are elected by the same number of votes needed to elect a single member from Perth. This style of weighting has not been adopted by any other Australian state.
While Perth accounts for 70% of the state's population, only 30% of the state's population is located in towns and small settlements across an area of over 2.6 million square kilometres outside the Perth metropolitan area.
However, until 2005, the state used a zonally weighted electoral system for both houses of parliament. In Legislative Council elections, this meant a vote in Perth was worth around 47% of a rural vote.
The WA Legislative Council is the last remaining State or Territory chamber in Australia to have a significant rural overweighting.