Tag Archives: VEC

Liberals retain seat of Warrandyte

A WEEK after the Warrandyte byelection, the final result has been declared.
On Friday, September 1, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) officially declared Liberal candidate Nicole Werner as the new Member for Warrandyte in the Victorian Legislative Council. Ms Werner told the Diary the campaign from pre-selection to this point was an “incredible journey.”

“I am humbled and deeply grateful for the trust and support I received from our community.
“Throughout my professional life, I’ve dedicated myself to service, particularly in the community and not-for-profit sectors.
“This campaign was an extension of that commitment — a chance to listen to and give back to our local community.”

The middle of August saw 12 candidates, comprised of Liberals, Greens, minor parties, and a handful of independents, vying for a vote from the 50,986 enrolled voters in the District.
Early in the byelection cycle, Labor had stated it would not contest the Warrandyte byelection, which is in line with party policy around byelections in “Liberal safe seats”.
Of the 50,986 enrolled, 38,664 were marked off the roll by 6pm on August 26, a turn out of 75.83 per cent, consistent with historical data regarding byelections, noting there are still postal votes to be counted.
Following rechecks, Ms Werner took 57.27 per cent of the primary vote, while the Greens Tomas Lightbody took 18.66 per cent, giving Ms Werner an outright victory without having to conduct a preference count.
The indicative two candidate preferred count saw Ms Werner’s majority at 71.10 per cent, with Mr Lightbody at 28.90 per cent.
With no Labor candidate and current Manningham Deputy Mayor Tomas Lightbody running as the Greens candidate, community perception was that the Greens might have a chance of taking the seat.
While the Greens gained a significant swing in this byelection, and Mr Lightbody performed well in the booth of Warrandyte, however, those gains were not replicated across the other booths, culminating in a Liberal landslide victory.
The Diary asked Ms Werner what the victory meant to her and the Liberal Party.

“I’m honoured by the strong support and vote of confidence from the people of Warrandyte.
“We campaigned on the local issues that matter most to our community, and it’s a sign that we are ready for positive change, a fresh approach to addressing local issues, and a commitment to protecting what makes our community special.
“The result is a testament to the faith the voters have placed in me, and I take that responsibility seriously.
“This result was significant for me personally as it represents the realisation of my parents’ choice to immigrate to Australia in 1988, all in pursuit of a better future for our family.
“For the Liberal Party, this result signifies that we are on the right path and are connecting with Victorians.
“I believe this result demonstrates that the Liberal Party can offer change and that we can continue to be a strong voice for Warrandyte and Victoria,” she said.

The Legislative Council is due to sit again on October 3; the Diary asked Ms Werner what her representation will look like in the last half of the calendar year.

“In the coming months, my focus is on fighting for and serving the people of the seat of Warrandyte.
“My top priorities include addressing the pressing issue of the deadly Five-Ways intersection, tackling the rising cost of living, safeguarding our precious Green Wedge, and advocating on behalf of the recently devastated Heatherwood School in Donvale.
“I am committed to working tirelessly to fulfil these promises and to ensure the concerns of our community are heard in the state parliament.
“I am deeply honoured to represent this community, one in which I grew up and attended school in.
“My roots in Warrandyte run deep, and I’m here to serve, to listen, and to stand up for the interests and wellbeing of our community.
|“You have my commitment; I will give my all every day to serve you as your member of Parliament.”

The voter experience

With this being the only byelection running in the State at that time, the major and minor parties were able to throw more resources at their respective campaigns as there were significantly fewer voting centres (compared to a full State election).
Voters have been critical of party representatives’ behaviour, especially during early voting at the Warrandyte Scout Hall.
The number of party representatives outside the Scout Hall frequently made the centre look busier than it was, and there has been criticism regarding this on social media. Warrandyte local Don Hughes, who is also involved in Warrandyte Scouts and Warrandyte Men’s Shed, spoke to the Diary about voters “running the gauntlet” during voting.

“Despite being well organised, the topography of the site channelled voters down a narrow driveway to the polling station.
“With so many candidates, each having at least one or more supporters handing out how-to-vote literature, the experience for many was like running a gauntlet.
“The narrow driveway had a funnelling effect. “Particularly with enthusiastic supporters thrusting literature at voters and enthusiastically trying to engage in political rhetoric, many felt anxious and even threatened.
“Several people I spoke to around the township decided not to attempt to run the gauntlet and went home to organise a postal vote,” he said.

How an election is run is managed by the VEC, but the legislation that defines what can and cannot happen is defined by the Electoral Act 2002.
The only people who can enact changes to the Electoral Act are those who we vote in to represent us.
Everything from how an election is conducted, what is needed to identify any material related to an election, what party workers can and cannot do, and where, to what a how-to-vote card looks like are all defined by the Act.
To its credit, the VEC trialled low sensory (quiet hours) voting for one day during early voting, which aimed to provide neurodiverse and voters with hidden disabilities with an opportunity to vote without being confronted by excessive noise. The Diary spoke with a voter who attended the special session, she said she was disappointed with the behaviour of most of the candidates, who had been asked to not approach voters on their way into the centre, however she understands there is nothing in the legislation to make the candidates comply with the VEC’s request.
“Once I got into the centre, the VEC staff were great, allowing me to vote in a quiet space at my own pace, but to get into the centre was still challenging as I was still confronted by multiple people with how-to-vote-cards,” she said.
With the community now experienced with two elections within six months of each other, now is our best time to voice what worked and what can be done better next time.

Date set for October municipal elections

THE 2020 MUNICIPAL elections are set for Saturday, October 24, 2020, as announced by Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek on May 15.

Mr Somyurek also announced that this election will be conducted entirely by postal vote.

This will be the first time postal voting will be used by all Victorian councils.

Voters, councils and the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) have been awaiting a decision by the Minster after the Local Government Act 2020 came into effect earlier this year.

The Chief Health Officer has advised the Government that it is safe for a postal election to occur this year.

The 2020 council elections are expected to be Victoria’s biggest election ever, with over 4.5 million voters enrolled and over 2,000 candidates expected to contest.

Mr Somyurek said it was every Victorian’s right to have a say on who represents them.

“Victorians have the right to a democratic say on who represents them at all levels of government.

“By making every vote a postal vote, we’re ensuring this vital democratic process is conducted in a safe manner that also allows for the participation of more voters,” he said.

VEC Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately AM acknowledged the announcement.

“The upcoming local government elections in Victoria will support continuity of democratic representation for Victorian communities,” Mr Gately said.

“The VEC will continue to monitor and implement advice issued by the Chief Health Officer of Victoria to ensure the elections are conducted with minimal risk to the health and safety of Victorians.”

The VEC is also taking additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff, the candidates and the public.

This includes provisions to maintain physical distancing requirements and hygiene standards at all election offices and count locations.

It is anticipated the adjustments will extend the time period for finalising results by one week.

Ballot packs will be mailed to voters and will include voting instructions, candidate information, a ballot paper, and a reply-paid envelope.

Postal voting is a secret ballot and the voter’s choices are anonymous.

The VEC reiterated the importance of making sure all those who are eligible confirm they are enrolled.

Voters must confirm they are enrolled on either the State electoral roll or their council roll before 4pm on Friday, August 28.

Voting is compulsory for all voters on the State roll electoral roll, and those who don’t vote may be fined.

The State Government also indicated voting packs would contain longer candidate statements, in acknowledgement of the strict physical distancing measures which are in place.

Candidates will also be given guidance on suitable and safe campaigning methods.

The State Government is also investing an additional $50,000 to encourage more women to run as councillors in the 2020 municipal elections.

Mr Somyurek has also sought advice to inform Ministerial guidelines to ensure councils provide more flexibility to support and encourage women to serve as councillors.

“We’re supporting more women to run for local government and be successful in the 2020 elections as we take another step towards the goal of gender equality by 2025,” he said.

With Councils being converted to Single Member Ward structures across the country, the 2020 election is certainly going to be interesting, but at least both members of the public and those responsible for organising the election now know when and how it is going to happen.

Can you vote?

Following the last municipal election, candidate Stella Yee challenged the results of Manningham’s Koonung Ward election when, she contended, the advice given to prospective voters around non-citizen voting was unclear.

As reported in the June 2017 Diary, Ms Yee challenged the results of the election, on the grounds the Ward’s non-citizen ratepayers were not properly informed on their right to vote in the election, based on advertisements run in the Manningham Leader and the Age.

At that time, then Manningham Council CEO, Warwick Winn issued a statement saying, “Magistrate Smith found the VEC ‘effectively failed to properly inform, or may have misled, non-resident ratepayers’ as to their eligibility to enrol to vote,” he said.

Mr Winn said Magistrate Smith also found the numbers of non-resident ratepayers who were prevented or disenfranchised from taking part in the election were significant enough that their inclusion in the election process potentially could have affected the outcome of the election.

This decision was later overturned on appeal by VCAT, who found that while the contentious advertisement did not provide a comprehensive description of the enrolment process, the notice did inform every category of voter how they could apply to enrol, and as such the notice fulfilled the requirements of the Act.

With a 2020 election date now set, Ms Yee is on a mission to ensure all those who are entitled to vote, can, given the number of “disenfranchised” voters at the 2016 Municipal Election may have changed the outcome, if they had voted.

“In 2016, I ran as a candidate for Manningham City Council.

“In the process, I discovered a whole group of voters who were not aware of their entitlement to vote in local council elections, and were therefore disenfranchised.

“This group of potential voters comprised residents of the municipality who were ratepayers in Manningham, but not Australian citizens.”

As outlined in the May 2020 Warrandyte Diary article Who can vote in the 2020 election?, whilst it is compulsory for Australian citizens to vote, non-citizen ratepayers and nominees of businesses which also pay rates within a municipality may also be entitled to vote, although it is not mandatory.

The specifics on non-citizen and business ratepayers voting is complex (see the May Diary or the VEC website for full details), but broadly, if you pay rates in a municipality, you can vote in that municipality.

“If you are in this category of ratepayers and you would like to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming council elections, you will need to go to your council office to enrol to be on the CEO’s List of Voters by August 28, 2020,” said Ms Yee.

August 28 is 57 days before the election, this is the Entitlement Date, which is the last date in which those who are eligible to vote (either optional or compulsory) must ensure they are on the appropriate voting roll, to participate in the 2020 municipal election.

Australian Citizens who will turn 18 before Election Day can enrol via the VEC website.

 

 

New ward structure for Manningham Council

By JAMES POYNER

MANNINHAM COUNCIL will have nine wards, instead of three, at the next local election.

Manningham Council announced the changes today, requesting input from the community regarding the names of the nine new wards.

Council had to submit the suggested name changes by May 21 and set up a Your Say page to include Manningham residents in the process.

The ward changes were announced by Minister of Local Government, Adem Somyurek on April 22.

Manningham joins nine other councils across Victoria who will not only have a new council in October, but a new representational structure.

Representational structure has been a topic of debate in the last 12 months, firstly with debate over making all local councils single member wards or single ward representation in early drafts of recently assented Local Government Act 2020, and during representational reviews conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) in 2019.

Given Manningham has just finished a representational review, and — along with many other councils — objected to the requirement to become a single member wards council, it is a shock that this change has taken place.

Manningham Mayor, Paul McLeish said: “Our existing ward boundaries have been changed by the Victorian Government despite the Electoral Representation Review, conducted last year by the Victorian Electoral Commission, recommendation to stay with the current three multi councillor wards.”

In early April, the VEC announced their representational reviews were ceasing as part of the new Local Government Act 2020.

When the changes to local government structure were announced on April 22, Mr Somyurek said: “Single member wards support accountability, equity and grassroots democracy.

“This is about giving people more confidence in local government, because strong councils build strong communities.”

It is perplexing why the Minister has decided to take this action, given that there was such obvious opposition to a single member ward system in Manningham, supported by the 2019 VEC representational review which states in its final report that:

“There was also unanimous support for retaining a multi-councillor ward arrangement for Manningham City Council.

“The VEC’s analysis, along with submissions from the community and the Council, indicate that the current electoral structure is functioning well and suits the diverse landscape and demography of the local council.”

The Diary asked the State Government why Mr Somyurek decided to change the ward structure in Manningham when there was clear support for the status quo from both residents and council in recent reviews.

Unfortunately, the Government avoided to respond to the direct question, instead supplying the Diary with background information stating that a single member ward structure is the “preference” under the Local Government Act 2020.

In early May, when Manningham first put out the request for ward names, a number of residents commented on the Diary’s Facebook page that they would prefer a ward name that reflects the Indigenous heritage of the area.

A sentiment reflected by local historian and Birrarung Stories columnist Jim Poulter, who told the Diary:

“This actually creates an opportunity to reflect our history and heritage in the names of the new wards.

“This is not going to occur by just holding a popularity contest where residents come up with random names,” he said.

Mr Poulter suggested that the following principles should be applied to the choice of names:

The names chosen should reflect both our Aboriginal and settler heritages in reasonable balance.

The names should reflect direct connection with each of the nine wards.

The names chosen should not be those of civic figures from the 20th century.

The names of any early settlers chosen should be free of the stain of antagonism toward Aboriginal people.

Mr Poulter has also submitted for consideration a suite of names for the new wards that illustrate the breadth of both Indigenous and colonial heritage in the area.

The final decision on the nine new ward names is in the hands of the Minster for Local Government, Adem Somyurek so we will have to wait until nearer the local election in October to see what Manningham’s new wards will be known as.

 

VEC Representation Review: Manningham

The Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC) Local Council Representation Review: Preliminary Report for Manningham has been published.

Those interested in submitting feedback regarding the two options outlined in the preliminary report have until 5pm on Wednesday, September 18 to do so.

In total, there were 6 (six) submissions in the initial stage of the Manningham representation review with approximately 64 per cent of the submissions stating they were happy with the current number of councillors and the current number of wards.

In response, VEC have proposed two options, both of which maintain the current structure of three wards with three councillors per ward.

The two options propose a slight boundary shift reducing a reduction of the size of Koonung Ward.

Images courtesy of VEC, for illustrative purposes only.

Option A brings extends Heidi Ward, bringing the entire suburb of Bulleen under one ward, whilst Option B moves the boundary of Mullum Mullum Ward, to bring the entirety of Tunstall Square Shopping Centre into the same ward – Mullum Mullum.

These boundary changes will have minimal impact to Warrandyte Diary readers but if you do wish to “have your say” regarding the preliminary report, visit the VEC website for details on how to submit and to read the full report.

 

VEC Representational Review of Manningham begins

THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) has begun its representational review of Manningham City Council.

Between now and October, members of the public will have their opportunity to have their say on the representational structure of Manningham Council.

The review will examine the following aspects of Council’s structure:

  • The number of councillors.
  • Whether the council should remain subdivided into wards.
  • The number of wards, their boundaries and the number of councillors per ward.

Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately says these reviews are an important way to ensure voters are represented fairly within the council structure.

“The opportunity to have your say doesn’t come around too often, so it’s important to have a broad range of community members contributing to the shape of their local democracy.

“If you are interested in the future electoral structure of your local area, I encourage you to get involved.

“Public submissions are a vital part of the review process, providing valuable local knowledge and perspectives,” he said.

Submission for the preliminary report will be accepted between Wednesday, June 26 and 5pm, Wednesday, July 24.

Information on how to submit can be found on the VEC website or will be listed in the July edition of the Diary.

On Monday, June 24, the VEC will be holding a public information session at the Manningham Civic Centre from 7pm.

Members of the public who wish to find out more before the purpose of this review and its processes are encouraged to attend.

VEC: Nillumbik Representation Review

Final report released

The Victorian Electoral Commission(VEC) have released their final report and recommendation for the Nillumbik Shire Representation Review.

The review, a process which takes place every 12 years, aims to ensure residents in municipalities are fairly represented by local council.

Over the course of the process, which began in April, a total of 157 public submissions were received by the VEC across the Preliminary Submission and Response Submission phases.

In its Preliminary Report, the VEC’s preferred option was a multi-councillor, three-ward structure which would have seen the distinct urban and rural areas covered under their own ward.

However, in the Final Report, the VEC has recommended the Shire retains its current representation structure of seven wards with one councillor per ward, a decision which will be welcomed by Council who have been submitting for the status quo since this process began.

Read our full analysis of the Nillumbik Representation Review in June’s Diary,  which will be available online on Monday.

Click here to read the Final Report.

Nillumbik representation report published

THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) have released its preliminary report regarding the electoral structure of Nillumbik Shire Council in its representation review.

Following an analysis of the projected population/voter data and the comments made in the Preliminary Submissions the VEC want feedback on two options:

  • Option A: Seven councillors elected from three wards (one three‑councillor ward and two two‑councillor wards)
  • Option B: Seven councillors elected from seven single‑councillor wards.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The VEC has highlighted its preference is for Option A.

An extensive 36 page report has been produced by the VEC and can read and downloaded here.

The urban/rural divide and the challenge of fairly representing residents was a common theme during the submission period.

It is common knowledge that the 435 square kilometre shire, with an estimated population of around 50,000 struggles with the challenges of having a highly concentrated population in its urban areas (Eltham had a population of 18,314 in the 2016 census) but has a responsibility to conserve the Green Wedge which makes up 91% of the geographical area and a population of 13,000.

This, coupled with ideological differences between significant community groups within Nillumbik’s Green Wedge, make fair representation a challenge.

Under the Local Government Act 1989 (LGA89), a subdivided municipality needs to ensure that each councillor represents around 10% of the total voter population.

The VEC uses LGA89 to calculate the total number of councillors needed to accurately represent each ward.

The choice to keep the number of councillors at seven is based on population growth projections which estimates Nillumbik Shire’s voting population will increase by 9.51% by the year 2036.

A large number of the submissions called for a system based on un-subdivided proportional representation, and while its preferred multi-councillor ward system does rely on proportional representation, it decided to not adopt a single ward model:

“The VEC recognises that there are some significant advantages to an un-subdivided electoral structure for Nillumbik Shire Council.

It would mean the proportional representation system would be used at elections and ensure that all seven councillors would be subject to the same quota to be elected (12.5%), which increases the community’s confidence during elections.

The un-subdivided electoral structure would provide voters with the widest choice of candidates at elections, enable both geographic and non-geographic communities of interest to elect a representative based on the proportion of support by the whole community and promote a whole-of-shire focus for councillors in a local council area where urban and rural interests are deeply inter-related due to their shared concerns about balancing environmental and development priorities.

However, the VEC has observed that elections for Nillumbik Shire Council have consistently been highly contested.

…An un-subdivided election for Nillumbik Shire Council will result in a lengthy ballot paper with an unwieldy list of candidates.

In the VEC’s experience, longer ballot papers can be confusing for voters and more difficult to fill out correctly, leading to higher levels of informal voting through voter error thereby effectively disenfranchising these voters.

On balance, the VEC did not favour an un-subdivided electoral structure for Nillumbik Shire Council for the following reasons:

  • An un-subdivided electoral structure would result in a much larger ballot paper.
  • The preliminary submissions have tended to focus on the division between interest groups with conservation or development priorities in the Green Wedge.

However, the VEC has generally heard that there remain differences in experiences and interests between urban and rural voters in the Shire.

Unlike an un-subdivided electoral structure, a subdivided structure would ensure there remains recognition of the broad geographic communities of interest in Nillumbik Shire.”

The VEC’s preferred three-ward multi-councillor option divides the shire into urban and rural wards and the multi-councillor option “ensures that the same counting system will be used in all three wards (i.e. proportional representation).”

With more than one councillor per ward, it is hoped this would address the issues of polarised council policy, specifically in the Green Wedge as it will not be just one councillor representing the view of everyone.

However, this is only going to work if the views/opinions of two Green Wedge council representatives are different enough to bring balanced representation to both conservation and development factions within the Green Wedge.

The VEC does highlight that under the three-ward Option, the Artisan Hills Ward is disproportionately larger — in terms of area — than the other two wards and may mean long travel times for those elected councillors, but the VEC states that this two-councillor structure keeps with the 10% representation tolerance.

If Option-A is chosen, will it “fix” the legislative issues in the Green Wedge? — probably not. It is this journalist’s opinion that the ideological and policy issues of the Green Wedge transcend Local Government.

However, if having multi-councillor wards stops the trend of Council swinging dramatically between development and conservation and allows for some debate on how to address both sides of the Green Wedge debate, then it is a good thing.

The VEC wants to know your opinion on Option A and Option B, public submissions are open until 5pm, Wednesday, May 8.

Submissions must include the full name, address and contact telephone number of the submitter.

Submissions without this information cannot be accepted.

Submissions can be made via:

The online submission form at vec.vic.gov.au

Email at nillumbik.review@vec.vic.gov.au

Post to

Victorian Electoral Commission

Level 11, 530 Collins Street

Melbourne VIC 3000

On Monday, May 13, there will be a public hearing at Nillumbik Council.

At this hearing, submitters will have a chance to talk about their submission in person.

Council representation under review

THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) is conducting an Electoral Representation Review of Nillumbik Shire Council.

In this review, the VEC will look at Council elements such as the number of councillors, the number of wards,  where the wards are located and how many councillors represent each ward.

The VEC conduct this review of every Council in the state every 12 years.

Submissions for the Preliminary Report are being accepted until 5pm, Wednesday, March 13 and can be submitted to the VEC in writing or through their website.

VEC Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately AM is encouraging all Nillumbik Shire residents to get involved, as this review will determine how residents are represented by Council.

“The opportunity to have your say doesn’t come around too often, so it’s important to have a broad range of community members contributing to the shape of their local democracy.

“If you are interested in the future electoral structure of your local area, I encourage you to get involved.

“Public submissions are a vital part of the review process, providing valuable local knowledge and perspectives,” he said.

At the last review in 2008, the VEC report recommended the Shire reduce the number of Wards from nine to seven.

Council are vying to maintain the status quo, passing a motion at the February 26 Ordinary Meeting to submit to the VEC that it retains the seven single councillor ward structure.

The submission continues to summarise that current structure is “consistent with seven distinct geographical communities of interest”, that under a single councillor per ward, it is easy for that person to represent the diverse interests of the wards occupants and that under the current system “responsibility for an issue is less likely to be passed from one councillor to another”.

Yet, current submissions from residents do not support this view.

Vince Bagusauskas is submitting a multimember structure be introduced into the ward structure and proposes this would lead to members serving for the “greater good of the community” as “all have to consider all views”.

Narelle Campbell is submitting a proportional representational model, similar to the Federal Senate.

“The Senate model in Nillumbik would provide equal representation of urban and rural residents at council.

“This would go some way towards ensuring urban residents and landowners, and rural residents and landowners are fairly represented and their needs inform local priorities, decisions and laws”.

Local activist and former Greens candidate in the 2018 State election, Ben Ramcharan also supports the concept of proportional representation and is currently campaigning for Nillumbik residents to endorse the idea.

“Political views in Nillumbik are deeply divided between pro-environment and pro-development.

“Each election, the council seems to switch between the two points of view. This causes a lack of continuity, which is a big problem.”

“With proportional representation, there would be a greater diversity of voices and councillors would need to negotiate, as it would be very difficult for either side to get an absolute majority.

“This would result in proposals to council being more acceptable to both sides and less likely to get revoked.

“It would also mean less drastic changes at council elections, resulting in greater continuity for the shire,” he said.

With many shire residents complaining about the town vs country divide and community groups within the Green Wedge fighting with each other and council over ideological differences, the proportional representation model has promise, but is not a golden ticket.

Electoral boundaries, both within and without the Shire are driven — under State law — by the concept of maintaining a consistent voter/councillor ratio and with the population spread as it is within Nillumbik, there will always be more councillors in the more densely populated urban areas.

But this level of change is not part of the current VEC review, although the review offers a great platform to discuss this issue and maybe even begin working on a governing solution to bring about ideological and geographical balance.

“The biggest solvable issue for rural residents is that half of them are not currently represented by their local councillor because of the political divide in Nillumbik.

“Although proportional representation may not solve the problem of rural residents getting less councillors, what it will do is ensure that all rural residents are represented by at least one of their councillors,” said Mr Ramcharan.

If you are interested in posting a submission for the preliminary part of this review you can do it online via the VEC website, by email to: nillumbik.review@vec.vic.gov.au or via post to Victorian Electoral Commission Level 11, 530 Collins Street, Melbourne, 3000.

All submissions must contain your full name, address and contact number.

All submissions will be published on the VEC website or will be available for public inspection at the VEC office in Melbourne.

Following the preliminary submissions, a report will be published by the VEC and a window for submitting responses to this report will open.

The VEC review of Manningham Council is scheduled to take place before the 2020 Municipal Election but a date has not yet been announced.

Warrandyte bridgeworks update

Bridge reduced to one lane overnight tonight to facilitate lane switch

AFTER a successful concrete pour, VicRoads have today announced the Warrandyte Bridge lane swap will happen overnight between 10pm, Wednesday July 11 and 5am, Thursday July 12.

Contraflow and traffic management will be in place to ensure traffic is still able to move across the Bridge overnight.

When completed, northbound traffic will use the new section of the bridge.

Southbound traffic will continue to use the current upstream lane.

This will allow VicRoads contractors VEC to work on the middle section of the bridge.

Pedestrian access will remain on the upstream path and the north bank pedestrian crossing will remain in place until bridgeworks are completed.

The Diary will keep across this story and report here if there are any changes to the current bridgeworks plan.

Bridgeworks in full swing

AFTER A two-month delay from the original scheduled weekend closure, the Warrandyte Bridge was fully closed over the weekend of May 5–6 and works have now resumed in earnest on the main bridge structure.

Single lane working occurred on April 18 for the AusNet works to replace the power pole at the bridge, and then again on May 2 for the VicRoads bridgeworks.

Although conducted outside the peak period, these single-lane working days caused significant traffic congestion in all four directions, the worst being on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Traffic delays ranged from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, with the average wait time being around 22 minutes.

VicRoads told the Diary that all future single lane closures will be done at night to minimise the impact on the community.

The installation of the protruding cantilever beams was completed during the period of single-lane working on May 2, and the big job of completing installation of the three huge lateral beams was performed very efficiently during the weekend of May 5–6.

In fact, the job was done so quickly that the bridge was reopened to traffic late on May 6.

The result of this work is that there is now a long lateral beam running for the entire length of the bridge about three metres out from original structure on the downstream side.

The job over the next few weeks will be for massive concrete pours to fill in the gap, following which we will have a much wider bridge surface. The existing railings on the downstream side can then be demolished and a new barrier erected to separate the new northbound lane from the new shared walkway.

At the same time, work is continuing on the north side to erect new traffic barriers, and on the upstream side in preparation for a slight overhang to accommodate the new pedestrian pathway on that side.

Although the May Information Update Bulletin has removed reference to the expected completion date, engineers advise they are still hopeful that the work can be completed by September/October.

Further full weekend closures are expected in the next couple of months, but at this stage the dates for these have not been set.

Rat-runners prompt temporary road closure

By DAVID HOGG

NILLUMBIK Council advises that following consultation with residents it has resolved to implement a temporary road closure on Dingley Dell Road near the intersection with Blooms Road while the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade works are in progress.

Residents have been vocal in their disgust of “rat-runners” speeding down the narrow dirt road to avoid the traffic build-up on Research-Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Roads.

The temporary road closure will be in the form of a gate and is scheduled for installation mid-May.

The gate will be removed and the road reopened once the bridgeworks have been completed.

Complimentary signage to reinforce the road closure will also be installed on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte, Research-Warrandyte and Blooms Roads.

Signage is also proposed at the southern leg of Dingley Dell Road to advise of the road closure ahead to enable vehicles to turn at Dingley Close.

Nillumbik Council recognises that the road closure is likely to result in an inconvenience to the broader community; however, it considers this intervention critical to manage the unprecedented ‘cut-through’ traffic use of this local road.

Warrandyte Bridge closure POSTPONED

URGENT UPDATE

The Diary has just been informed that the schedule weekend closure of the Warrandyte Bridge IS NOT going ahead.

In an email sent to the VicRoads project team and the emergency services, VEC, the engineering team have requested more time to prepare the beams which they were going to installed this weekend:

Hi all

The planned closure of the Warrandyte Bridge this weekend has been postponed.The works and closure of Warrandyte Bridge to install beams will not go ahead as originally planned from 10pm Friday 23rd March – 5am Monday 26th March. We will advise of the rescheduled date for the closure asap.

VEC Civil Engineering, the contractor, has requested more time to prepare to install the beams which VicRoads has granted.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

The Diary has spoken to VicRoads media who cannot, at this time, confirm if any work is going ahead this weekend.

VicRoads are yet to set a new date for the full bridge closure, but the Diary will keep you informed on any further developments.

Electoral Tribunal sends Koonung ward back to the ballot box

Voters in Koonung ward may find themselves back at the ballot box after the Municipal Electoral Tribunal today found the results from the 2016 election void due a failure to properly inform all ratepayers on their eligibility to vote.

Last October’s election results were challenged by Ms Stella Yee, a resident of Doncaster who came fifth in the Local Council election on the grounds the Ward’s non-citizen ratepayers were not properly informed on their right to vote in the election.

Mr Warwick Winn, Manningham Council CEO issued a statement saying “Magistrate Smith found the Victoria Electoral Commission (VEC) ‘effectively failed to properly inform, or may have misled, non-resident ratepayers as to their eligibility to enrol to vote’”, he said.

Magistrate Smith also found the numbers of non-resident ratepayers who were prevented or disenfranchised from taking part in the election were significant enough that their inclusion in the election process probably would have affected the outcome of the election.

The three Manningham councillors, Cr Dot Haynes, Cr Anna Chen and Cr Mike Zafiropoulos will continue in their roles as elected officials for the time being, VEC have seven days to appeal the decision.

If the VEC accept today’s decision the next step will be to inform the Minister for Local Government who will then need to set a new election date.

The Warrandyte Diary will have more on this story as it develops.