Shire of Narrogin president Leigh Ballard has penned an open letter to Mark McGowan, calling on the Premier to protect regional representation in the Upper House and give Labor MPs a conscience vote on any proposed electoral reform. The McGowan Government announced the establishment of a ministerial expert committee in April to examine how “electoral equality” could be achieved in the Legislative Council. WA’s Upper House is divided into six geographical regions, with each region electing six members to Parliament despite big population and geographical differences between bush and city electorates. Half the seats in the Upper House are given to regional members despite regional constituents representing about a quarter of registered voters at the last election. For example, with about 70,000 electors, votes cast in the Mining and Pastoral Region at the March election were worth 6.22 times more than those cast in Perth. Advocates argue the system is necessary to safeguard regional voices. Last month, Opposition Leader Mia Davies called for a Statewide referendum on any changes to regional representation in the Upper House. With the WA State electoral system under review, Cr Ballard has appealed to the State Government to protect the regions. He said a system of one vote, one value would be “totally inappropriate and indeed unjust”. “I now write to you and appeal to you direct, on behalf of the elected members of the duly elected Shire of Narrogin and its 5200 inhabitants,” Mr Ballard wrote to Mr McGowan last month. “Any electoral reform that reduces the voice of regional people is a concern for not just Narrogin and its electors, but also the electors of the wider district. “Equal representation between voting districts, based purely on population, would be totally inappropriate and indeed unjust.” The letter follows the McGowan Government’s landslide election victory in March. After the election, WA Labor pushed ahead with plans to reform Upper House voting, citing the election of an MP with 98 primary votes as the impetus for the move. The reviews comes despite repeated assurances from Mr McGowan on the campaign trail that changes to regional representation were not on his agenda. “Labor has, since inception, been founded and prided itself on representing the masses, the downtrodden, the common man and woman,” Mr Ballard wrote. “We in the country need your help more than ever now. “The only way that country people in WA have had some form of representation and ear of the Parliament has been through the proportional voting system that has allowed greater participation in Parliament through a long-held agreed positive (beneficial) distortion to the one vote, one value system.” Mr Ballard said the election of a candidate with only 98 primary votes warranted a review of group voting tickets and vote harvesting, but not at the expense of regional representation. “Put simply, if the Government of today does not protect the country people of today, tomorrow there might be no people in the country to govern,” he said.