An independent candidate for the Rockingham by-election says she would seek to “pause” the Voice to Parliament referendum because new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Laws meant it was on track to fail. Rockingham deputy mayor Hayley Edwards, who is running for the seat vacated by Mark McGowan as an independent, said while she had been a supporter of the Voice “in principle”, the rollout of the new laws meant even strong Yes voters had switched to No and it was heading to defeat. Ms Edwards admitted as a cross bench MLA at a state level, the only thing she could do to stop the nationwide vote was to “give voice” to her concerns. But she insisted that with the writ yet to be issued and a date not set, there was still a chance for the referendum to be put on hold. The pledge first came in response to a Facebook comment on an unrelated post, where Ms Edwards wrote; “We should not be having a referendum”. “If elected I will be seeking to stop the referendum going ahead, this is not the time, post covid, Rockingham locals are very concerned,” she went on. Ms Edwards told the West she had supported the Voice as a councillor and remained an in-principle supporter, but was now “unsure in practice” and believed the referendum should revisited in the next Federal term of government. “I think the Aboriginal Heritage Act has thrown a spanner in the works. People are linking the two issues,” she said. “The Voice is heading to defeat and I think that’s such a great risk for this country. It’s a great risk to reconciliation and moving forward as a nation.” Ms Edwards said the government had failed to provide easily accessible simple answers to concerns and that its messaging had been “terrible”. She estimated that 80 per cent of the people she spoke to during the campaign had raised the issues of the new heritage laws and the Voice - conflating the two - and “that’s what people are voting on”. The candidate said after years of constant COVID messaging, the public was also “over hearing from the government.” Labor holds Rockingham on a 37.7 per cent margin, its safest state in the seat. But the effect of a prominent independent is unknown and the margin is expected to be much closer than first anticipated, with shock poll published in the West on Monday revealing that since Roger Cook took over as Premier, the WA Liberals have now taken a 54-46 two party preferred lead statewide. An Utting Research poll published in The West on Tuesday found 58 per cent of West Australians intended to vote no in the referendum and that more than half of voters said the new heritage laws had make them less likely to support the Voice. Labor’s Magenta Marshall is hoping to succeed the former Premier as Rockingham MLA.