Sunday, February 25, 2024

Corangamite Mayor calls electoral structure review meeting

Corangamite Shire Mayor, Ruth Gstrein, has called a special Council Meeting to consider the municipality’s electoral review submission.

The Mayor says it will give Council time to vote on an official position and prepare a submission to the electoral structure review ahead of the 22 February deadline.

An independent electoral representation advisory panel, supported by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) is considering if the council:

•           has an appropriate number of Councillors;

•           should be one large unsubdivided area; or

•           should be subdivided into wards.

The meeting will be at the Killara Centre from at 5:30pm on Tuesday 14 February and will be open to the public.

Mayor Gstrein said the review would change how the community elects Councillors.

“The status quo of a mixed system of multi member and single member wards is no longer allowable under the new Local Government Act,” she said.

“This means we will be getting a new electoral system. There is a possibility that we will lose our ward system meaning some communities may no longer have their own local Councillor.

“In all likelihood we will either get a single unsubdivided municipality where Councillors are elected by the Shire at large, or we will get seven single member wards likely through a new Terang ward and Camperdown being split into two wards.

“The trend across the state seems to be toward rural councils getting unsubdivided structures.”

Mayor Gstrein said the meeting would be an opportunity for Council to finalise a formal position.

“The State Government and VEC seem to prefer single member wards or an unsubdivided municipality. Each system has pros and cons which Council will weigh up in deciding its formal position.”

“Single member wards are more likely to be truly local representatives of their ward, be easily accessible to residents, and aware of local issues. On the other hand, there is a risk that Councillors may sometimes not take a whole-shire perspective.

“The upside of an unsubdivided Council would mean Councillors taking a view of the Shire as a whole and would make uncontested elections far less likely. The other side of the coin is that, bigger towns are more likely to be represented at the expense of smaller towns like Skipton and Lismore being poorly represented.”

Submissions close on Wednesday 22 February.

The panel will make a final recommendation to the Minister for Local Government by Wednesday 17 May.

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