KINGSTON mayor Georgina Oxley has called for changes to council’s ward structure to be held off.
In June, the Victorian Electoral Commission began a review to determine if Kingston has an appropriate number of councillors, whether it should remain subdivided into wards, whether there should be more or less wards, and how many councillors should represent each ward. On 14 August they published their preliminary report, and sought community responses on two future options for Kingston Council. The first option is to remain with three councillors divided into three wards, with some adjustments to the current ward boundaries. The second option would see council expand to eleven, with an extra councillor elected in both North Ward and South Ward.
Cr Oxley said that any changes should not be implemented until after the introduction of a new local government bill.
“Any changes should be put on hold until after the implementation of the new local government bill, which proposes changing Kingston’s ward structure to become single councillor wards,” she said.
“The introduction of any new structure before this bill is introduced would create confusion and would be a waste of time.
“We hope that the minister for local government listens to council’s request for any changes to be postponed, so that they have an opportunity to be rolled out well and for the community to be properly informed.”
Kingston Council sent a letter to local government minister Adem Somyurek in July asking for any decision “following the first VEC review in June” to be postponed.
Cr Oxley said that the VEC’S representation review was “an expensive process which has already cost the community more than $50,000 and is subject to further changes.”
The deadline for responses to the VEC’s preliminary report is 5pm 11 September. The preliminary report can be viewed and submissions can be made at vec.vic.gov.au. The final report containing the VEC’s recommendation on structure to the local government minister will release on 9 October.
Electoral commissioner Warwick Gately AM said last week “we want to ensure all voters are represented in a fair and equitable way, so now’s the time to speak up. You have one month to consider the options and make your submission supporting or opposing the options (“Bigger council is considered, The News, 14/8/19)”.