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Nine single-member ward model adopted for Council

Latrobe City Council adopted a nine single-member ward electoral model as its preferred option at Monday nightís Special Council Meeting

By Latrobe City Council - 17th May 2002 - Back to News

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Latrobe City Council adopted a nine single-member ward electoral model as its preferred option at Monday nightís Special Council Meeting at Kernot Hall. The adoption of the preferred model will now be submitted to a further community consultation process which will include suggestions for naming the additional wards.

Latrobe City Mayor, Councillor Brendan Jenkins, said a decision on the preferred option had been reached after public input had been considered from a series of public workshops and the receipt of individual submissions.

"Council believes the preferred model provides a good starting point for further consultation on a final model. It provides for divisions into wards which is the only system which would guarantee broad representation from right across the municipality. The increase in the number of Councillors proposed, strikes a medium point between those who were looking for the maximum number of Councillors and those who recognise the rationality of the status quo," Cr Jenkins said.

"A number of submissions confined themselves almost exclusively to an attack on the present system of democratic local government and the principle of one person one vote. Those who support such a position could not be catered for in any model, and there is no doubt they will continue to promote and reflect a more divisive position than is generally displayed by the community. Consequently, they received little support at Council."

Cr Jenkins thanked those who had made a genuine effort to understand the system of local government mandated by statute, and participated in a spirit of goodwill and open mindedness. "Thankfully these submissions were the overwhelming majority and were of great guidance to Councillors," Cr Jenkins said.

Cr Jenkins said the review of electoral representation had been initiated by Council to provide for public input into an otherwise mechanical procedure. "Every six years Councils must review boundaries to ensure the number of voters within those boundaries is within a ten percent margin. As the number of voters in one ward had increased beyond the ten percent margin, a change to boundaries would have been necessary anyway. Rather than take the easy approach and simply move a boundary, Council decided to provide the whole municipality with an opportunity to have their say," Cr Jenkins said.

"Six electoral model options were suggested in a working paper which formed the basis for discussion in a series of workshops conducted by Duesburys. These were by no means the only options, and workshop participants and the community at large were actively encouraged to make their own submissions on any model at all. As a result, three workshops and an information session were conducted, and 37 written submissions received and reported to Council.

"There was a variety of submissions coming from all points of the compass, with all electoral models including the status quo being supported by one or more submissions. One of the real challenges for Council was to interpret the relatively low number of independent submissions. This was interpreted by some as being a clear support for the status quo," Cr Jenkins said.

"An important issue was that of an even versus odd number of Councillors. Maintaining an uneven number of Councillors means that every Councillor and every resident via representation enjoys equal voting rights. The alternative, an even number of Councillors, means that in the event of a tied vote, a casting vote is given to the chair, which tends to debase the democratic process. Additionally, having an odd number of Councillors also removes the possibility of a tie in the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor," Cr Jenkins added.

"Having adopted the preferred model based on the inputs from consultation to date, a second community consultation process will begin, and citizens are invited to make further comment in relation to the review. Submissions will be formally invited in the near future, as will input into naming the proposed new wards," Cr Jenkins concluded.


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