Mayor calls special meeting to discuss Wards
Published on 07 February 2023
Corangamite Shire Mayor Ruth Gstrein has called a special Council Meeting to consider the municipality’s electoral review submission.
It will give Council time to vote on an official position and prepare a submission to the electoral structure review before the Wednesday 22 February deadline, well before the scheduled February meeting.
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 5:30 pm on Tuesday 14 February.
It will be open to the public as are all Council meetings.
Cr 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,” Cr Gstrein 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.”
Cr 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.”
Cr Gstrein encouraged community members to get actively involved.
“Please take the time to make a submission to make your views known. If you care about the ward system and having your own local Councillor then it is important that you express that to the Electoral Representation Advisory Panel.”
Submissions are open now and close on Wednesday 22 February.
The panel will consider the submissions and the requirements of the law to propose options for the council’s structure in a preliminary report. You will also be able to share your views on this report.
The panel will make a final recommendation to the Minister for Local Government by Wednesday 17 May.
If the Minister accepts it, the new structure will apply at the October 2024 local council elections.
To find out more, go to vec.vic.gov.au or call 131 832.