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Western Australia

About Parliament | History | State symbols | Chartist checkbox | Did you know?

About Parliament

Western Australia Parliament

Western Australia's Parliament has two Houses. The Upper House is the Legislative Council and the Lower House is the Legislative Assembly, where the government of the day is formed.

There are currently 34 Members of the Legislative Council (MLCs), elected from six regions for a term of four years. Four of these regions have five members, and two have seven members.

Members of the Legislative Assembly are elected from each of 57 electoral districts for a four-year term.

Members of the Legislative Council are elected by a proportional representation voting system, while Members of the Legislative Assembly are elected using a preferential system. Voting in Western Australia's State elections is compulsory for all citizens aged 18 years or over.


The first permanent European occupation of Western Australia started in 1829 on the Swan River, at the site of Perth. The first Governor of Western Australia was Captain James Stirling. In 1832 he headed the meeting of the first Legislative Council, consisting of the four men he chose to help him govern the colony.

In 1870, Western Australia got its first representative government: a Legislative Council with 18 members; twelve of them elected by men who owned property in the colony.

Western Australia's first responsible government started in 1890 after approval of its constitution by the British Parliament. This new Parliament was bicameral, with both an Upper and a Lower House. Under the new system, the Legislative Council had 15 members, all chosen by the Governor. The newly formed Legislative Assembly was an elected body of 30 members.

When the population reached 60,000 in 1893, Britain agreed to the Legislative Council becoming an elected body of 21 members; three members from each of seven provinces. However, only adult males who owned property in the colony had the right to vote in Legislative Council elections. Women who owned property gained the right to vote in 1899 and in 1963 all citizens were allowed to vote in Legislative Council elections.

State symbols

Western Australia has no official colours, but sporting teams usually wear black and gold.

Reproduction with permission of the Western Australian Government.

The Western Australian Coat of Arms was granted in 1969 by Queen Elizabeth II. It shows two kangaroos with boomerangs supporting a shield which bears the image of a black swan. Above the shield is a royal crown, resting on a black and gold wreath between two kangaroo paw flowers.

The Western Australian flag originated in 1875 and consisted of the British blue ensign, with the Union Flag occupying the upper corner and the State Badge centrally situated on the other half of the flag. The badge originally had the swan facing away from the flagpole, however, this was reversed in 1953.

The State Badge was approved by the Colonial Office sometime between 1870 and 1875 and shows the black swan on a yellow disk.


The Parliament House of Western Australia is located in Harvest Terrace, West Perth. It was officially opened in 1904 and later additions including the imposing Donnybrook sandstone façade and portico were completed in 1964.

Mangles kangaroo paw, proclaimed the Floral Emblem of Western Australia in 1960.

The numbat, or banded anteater, was made the State Animal Emblem of Western Australia in 1973.

The black swan became the State Bird Emblem of Western Australia in 1973. It has been a symbol for Western Australia since the early days of European settlement.

The gogo fish was made the State Fossil Emblem of Western Australia in 1995.

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Chartist checklist

The Chartist checklist was a series of demands for responsible and representative government that spread throughout the Australian colonies from the mid-19th century.

Western Australia (Self-government from 1890)

Democratic right Date right achieved for Assembly
Universal adult male suffrage 1893
Secret ballot 1877
Annual Parliament Not implemented
No property qualifications for Members of Parliament 1893
Payment of Members of Parliament 1900
Equal electorates A 15% variance from the specified quota for a given area is tolerated. The metropolitan area consists of 34 seats, with the remainder of the State divided into 23 districts, each constituting an area of its own.
Adult female suffrage 1899
Voting rights for Indigenous Australians Indigenous people were granted the right to vote for State Parliament in 1962.

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Did you know?

  • Because outback Western Australia has so few people, the State allows country electorates to have fewer voters to elect a Member of Parliament than other electorates.
  • Women were allowed to stand for election to the Western Australian Parliament in 1920. Edith Cowan became the first woman to be elected to an Australian parliament, when she was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1921.
  • The former Premier of Western Australia, Carmen Lawrence, was the first female Premier in Australia, serving between 1990 and 1993.
  • Western Australia was the last colony to join the federation of Australia after the Constitution had become law in Britain. Gold-diggers were strongly in favour of federation, but farmers feared their produce would face competition from the east. However, the people voted in favour, with overwhelming majorities on the goldfields and a substantial majority in Perth.

Parliament of Western Australia

Western Australia Electoral Commission

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