Tag Archives: Victorian Electoral Commission

Local Elections declared

RESULTS FOR the Manningham and Nillumbik Local Elections are in.

With the pandemic forcing a 100 per cent postal election and concerns that Australia Post may not be able to process the volume of ballot packs, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) ran a campaign encouraging voters to return their completed ballots as soon as possible.

Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately, said voters responded to the call and it is expected the turnout for the 2020 local elections will exceed the voter response to the 2016 elections.

“I am impressed by the rate of ballot returns compared with the same time in 2016.

“We are tracking above where we expected to be and are appreciative of the public’s response,” he said.

In 2016 an average of 72 per cent of people participated in the elections.

Mr Gately says the ballot return rate is expected to exceed the 75 per cent anticipated average return for this year’s elections.

“Our reminders have generated large call volumes and we’ve increased call centre staff in response,” he said.

In line with state government policy many local councils have moved to single councillor wards.

This election saw 298 separate elections held across Victoria and 2,187 candidates nominated.

In Nillumbik, 79 candidates were campaigning for one of nine ward seats whereas Manningham’s nine ward seats were being contested by 41 candidates.

With both Mannigham and Nillumbik now each representing as nine wards each with one councillor representing, the results are as follows:

 

Nillumbik: Blue Lake Ward, Councillor Richard Stockman; Bunjil Ward, Councillor Karen Egan; Edendale Ward, Councillor Natalie Duffy; Ellis Ward, Councillor Peter Perkins; Sugarloaf Ward, Councillor Ben Ramcharan; Swipers Gully Ward, Councillor Frances Eyre; Wingrove Ward, Councillor Geoff Paine,

 

Manningham: Bolin Ward, Councillor Geoff Gough; Currawong Ward, Councillor Andrew Conlon; Manna Ward, Councillor Tomas Lightbody; Tullamore Ward, Councillor Deirdre Diamante; Waldau Ward, Councillor Anna Chen; Ruffey Ward, Councillor Stephen Mayne; Schramm Ward, Councillor Laura Mayne; Westerfolds Ward, Councillor Michelle Kleinert; Yarra Ward, Councillor Carli Lange.

 

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.

 

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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.