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BRAG: Urgent Electoral Review (BRAG)
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Urgent Electoral Review (BRAG)
by Stephen Digby - Friday, 25 April 2008, 11:08 PM

Dear members,

VEC has put forward a preferred option for changing our wards from ten single councillor wards to four much larger multiple councillor wards.

From the 215 responses sent to the VEC, 80% preferred the existing structure and yet VEC has chosen to ignore the overwhelming majority. Furthermore, if you give proper weight to BRAG’s response (on behalf of its 500 members) and other group responses, the percentage would be well over 90%. WHY?

  • The clue is in the body of the report which mentions development lobbyists being concentrated in localized areas (like Camberwell Junction / Kew Junction /Glenferrie where development issues such as Activity Centre / large developments create real concern). VEC argues that the vocal localized resident reaction unduly pressures the single Councillor, whereas the four ward/multiple Councillor preferred option would broaden the issues over a much larger area and to more Councillors. Of course, this would include those residents who would be unaffected by a particular development and may not have any interest in it, thus marginalizing those most affected, those closest to and more affected by the development.
  • The other main reason for VEC’s preferred option, which has not been spelled out, is that larger wards make it easy for candidates backed by a political party to campaign because of their financial backing, whereas an independent candidate would find financing and campaigning in a larger ward much more expensive & more difficult. BRAG is adamant that we keep politics out of Council. Remember VEC is an arm of government so you can readily see where the pressure for change is coming from.

Attached is a letter to residents from our Mayor, Coral Ross, together with a leaflet outlining other arguments against changing the current structure and also showing the four VEC options. The fourth option is closest to the one preferred by the residents’ responses. (You may need to enlarge the attachments to 100%).

Also attached is a copy of BRAG's submision to VEC.

VEC is prepared to accept submissions on their preferred options to be lodged by Wednesday 30th April 2008-5pm - to VEC, 505 Lt. Collins St. Melb. 3000.or email to boroondara.review@vec.vic.gov.au You can indicate if you wish to speak at a public hearing to be held at the Mayor’s Room, Hawthorn Town Hall, 360 Burwood Road, Hawthorn on Wednesday 7th May 6.30pm.

Whether you lodge a submission or not, BRAG urges you to come to the meeting at Hawthorn Town Hall on Wed.7th May at 6.30pm. You don’t necessarily have to speak, we will certainly be making our position clear to the VEC representatives on your behalf – people power does work, so we need you to be there - numbers will be critical.

Jack Roach, BRAG 9882 2829 / 0412 744163

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Community Ignored on electoral representation review (Letter to residents from Mayor Ross)
by Stephen Digby - Friday, 25 April 2008, 11:12 PM
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Further Submission to VEC Electoral Review of Boroondara. (BRAG)
by Stephen Digby - Friday, 25 April 2008, 11:13 PM

The Victorian Electoral Commission, Level 8, 505 little Collins St. MELBOURNE. 3000.

Further Submission to VEC Electoral Review of Boroondara.

In our original submission we pointed out that it was lodged on behalf of our members, who number over 500, and they have made it very clear that they support the retention of the current 10 ward, one councillor per ward rather than larger wards with multiple councillors.

We note with some concern that, in reporting the results, the BRAG submission was counted as only one. Surely a submission lodged on behalf of 500 residents must carry much more weight than a submission from an individual.

We also note that a submission from the Grace Park Residents Association representing 300 households is also not weighted appropriately.

Even with this incorrect count, nearly 80% of the submissions were clearly in favour of the current position but, if you give proper weight to the submissions the percentage would be much higher, well above 90%.

In spite of this, the Commission has opted for a four ward multi-councillor preferred option. How can this be?

It is obvious to all that VEC has ignored the overwhelming majority supporting the existing ward structure despite indicating it would carefully consider all views from the public and value local knowledge and perspectives presented.

Interestingly, we also note that some of the submissions were from groups and individuals who do not reside in the area. We do not believe they should have a say in what is essentially a local issue.

VEC must take note that the Boroondara community have responded to this issue in greater numbers than other communities in similar situations because they are concerned and involved in local matters; as evidenced by their overwhelming response to the Government’s unpopular decision to develop the air space above Camberwell station and other similar issues within Boroondara.

Our residents have extensive local knowledge and experience and their views must not be taken lightly. The Boroondara Council and the majority of residents have clearly indicated their preference for the current ten ward/single councillor arrangement.

We note that VEC has not provided any convincing evidence that a multi-councillor/four ward system would work any better than the existing arrangement so it is not appropriate for VEC to decide that they are misguided or ill informed.

It is not up to VEC to unilaterally decide to change the system. To do so would raise the spectre of there being other agendas at work.

BRAG wishes to address the meeting at the Hawthorn Town Hall on 7th May 2008.

Yours faithfully, Jack Roach BRAG President.