Single member wards undermine grass roots democracy

DCAN has called on the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews to suspend the implementation of single member wards under the Local Government Act following recent revelations about the conduct of the former minister for Local Government, Mr Adem Somyurek. DCAN believes that the former Minister's reported behaviour has undermined the trust that Victorians can place in the changes made to the Victorian Government Electoral Act under his watch.

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Controversy broke out when the former Minister first unveiled plans to move nearly all of the State’s councils to a single member ward system. This was against the advice of the independent Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). In addition, the Municipal Association of Victoria, two thirds of Victorian Councils, local government women’s advocates and members of the minister’s own mayoral advisory panel were against the changes. There is ample evidence that single member wards discourage independents, women and minority candidates from running in "winner-takes-all contests".

In Darebin we have seen the consequences of one Party dominating the Council for many years, ending up in allegations of corruption and several years of administration. The VEC’s scathing commission of inquiry into the dysfunctional Geelong City Council found single councillor wards “had the effect of undermining good governance”. They compromised decision making by “trading off decisions for the common good in favour of ward interests” and distorted resource allocation and “rational priorities”.

DCAN fully supports Darebin's independent Mayor, Councillor Susan Rennie in calling for a reconsideration of the single-member ward system. We want to see a vibrant, independent Darebin Council with a diversity of representatives from the community. We call on the Premier to give us confidence in our democratic processes by suspending the changes until a full review has taken place.

Please join our campaign by emailing your concerns to the Premier: daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au, the Minister for Local Government: shaun.leane@parliament.vic.gov.au and local State Members of Parliament.

Showing 3 reactions

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  • Elizabeth Hurtt
    commented 2020-10-10 19:06:42 +1100
    I’m only now (October 10th) discovering that Darebin, despite it would seem the wishes of the current Council and the recommendations of the VEC has changed to single councillor wards. Having moved into the area in December 2019 I was unaware of the proposed change. Had I been aware sooner I would have most certainly emailed the premier and the minister for local government expressing my very strong disagreement with the change. Is it worthwhile agitating for a return to multiple councillors representing wards come the next election?
  • Karen Large
    commented 2020-08-14 16:36:01 +1000
    Thanks for the comment Caroline. That must have been a really interesting experience being on the Geelong Citizens Jury. It is very disappointing that the recommendation for multi wards has now been dropped for the reasons stated above. It also beggars belief that they couldn’t see any problems with donations at the local government level! So many examples to choose from – City of Frankston a live example! Karen from DCAN.
  • Caroline Danaher
    commented 2020-08-14 13:49:40 +1000
    i was part of the geelong Citizens jury to make recommendations to the new Victorian local governmetn act. One of the 13 recommendations accepted was multi wards for this very reason. what is the point if the work done is then removed a few years later? the one recommendation NOT accepted was NO donations. they did not think local government had a problem with donations. beggars belief. Democracy in free fall.

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