Just sayin’…

May 12th, 2024Just sayin’…

I have been wondering how this year's council elections will go with no ward boundaries.

By Donna Kelly

I have been wondering how this year’s council elections will go with no ward boundaries.

The decision to remove them was made this year by the Victorian Electoral Commission, with input from councils and ratepayers.

Thirty councils will change to a single-member ward structure and four councils will change to a multi-member ward structure – Buloke Shire Council, Northern Grampians Shire Council, Surf Coast Shire Council and Yarriambiack Shire Council.

The final five councils will change to an unsubdivided structure – Campaspe Shire Council, Gannawarra Shire Council, Moorabool Shire Council, Strathbogie Shire Council – and Hepburn Shire Council.

So we keep the same number of councillors but we all vote for anyone from any ward. Well, the wards don’t exist after this election, so we vote for anyone from any town, hamlet, farm…

But I just don’t know how that will work. For example, in our little town of Glenlyon, which used to be in Holcombe Ward, we voted for people we knew cared about the region – hopefully because they lived there.

And because all the Holcombe Ward people were voting for someone in Holcombe Ward, someone in Holcombe Ward ended up on the council – hopefully pushing for the rights of our little ward.

But now there is no requirement for a certain amount of councillors to be voted for any area. So, for example, with the majority of the Hepburn Shire ratepayers living in Daylesford and Creswick, I would imagine the majority of those elected will be from Daylesford and Creswick, that just makes sense.

But who will put their hand up to help with a battle in Glenlyon, or Little Hampton, or Hepburn? I know, the councillors will be asked to represent all of their constituents but human nature being what it is, wouldn’t you help your neighbour first?

And surely this no-ward structure means the only people being voted in are those with the highest profile already – like Mayor Cr Brian Hood who is oft quoted in media reports.

Not sure who else – but you know, Alla Wolf-Tasker, who I am sure would never want the role, would have a good chance, or one of the local former AFL footballers could be in like Flynn.

Sadly old John Smith, who lives down the road at nowhere’s-ville, despite being a great bloke, really keen on transparency, knows all about due diligence and finance and has plenty of time on his hands to make a communnity contribution, doesn’t have a snow flake’s chance in hell.

Money is the other thing that could come into play. If you are watching free-to-air television at the moment, you would have seen myriad commercials about some convention Clive Palmer is holding throughout Australia – with some American guy coming out because our two countries are so similar with the same great values. Hmmm. Yeah, nah.

Anyway, love him, or like me, loathe him, Palmer has money – although his Queensland workers were left wondering where it was – and has tried before to buy an election with campaign dough.

So, if a local resident wanted hard enough to get voted onto the Hepburn Shire Council, they could up their profile if they had enough cash to spend a bit on advertising themselves. And that just seems a bit unfair to me.

Cash may be king, but we should be living in a republic by now. Please note, under commerical law, The Local must accept advertising from anyone. We can start your campaign any time you are ready…

Anyway, it will be an interesting election and I am keen to see who is going to put their hand up. I did once you know. Way back in 2016 I guess. Not sure what I was thinking but I failed miserably.

It was the day of the election and the counting was under way. I was still a bit hopeful and a bit “oh no, what have I done” when a woman wearing a hat covered in fake birds stopped me outside Coles in Daylesford.

“You came last in the count,” she announced, quite loudly. I laughed. Thought she was joking and replied: “Oh, no, they are just doing the count now…” “Yes, I was there,” she said. “You polled last.”

So a nice comedown, from a woman in a hat covered in birds, although I did get enough votes to get my registration money back. And to be truthful, while I was a bit miffed, I did think later I had dodged a bullet.

Mind you it was before Covid so there were plenty of long drives to council meetings in Clunes and Creswick, in the dead of winter, through sleet and snow. Now, it’s all on Zoom out of the Daylesford Town Hall.

If you decide to run, I would love to hear from you. You know, just for the scoop. And do I have a campaign package just right for you. Just sayin’…

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