Tuesday, January 31, 2006

City Council splurge on Games

Ratepayers continue to foot the bill as the full expenses are hidden from public view

Melbourne City Council spends up big on the Commonwealth Games. The Herald-Sun today reports that the City Councillors will spend in excess of $170,000.00 on Commonwealth Games tickets. And that is just the tip of the Ice Berg.

Herald Sun: Ratepayers foot Commonwealth Games splurge bill [31jan06] by Jen Kelly

The City Council has spent much much more overall, most of the expenditure has been hidden away under creative accounting and other budget items. The previous two Councils had spent 100's of thousands of dollars visiting the Sydney Olympics, Junkets to Manchester - London and the like all in the name of the Games.

Part-time Labor Councillor Kate Redwood (Yes the same Kate Redwood elected on the back of McClowns push for the top job). Kate spent over $20,000.00 on a five day visit/junket to Manchester in 2003. To what benefit? Kate was not directly involved in the planning or organisation of the event and has little to no experience, knowledge and skills in sports/event planning.

The concerns expressed by Cr Ng are highly dubious if not deceitful. Surely Ng knew about these expenses before today? If not she should have. She comes out and expresses concern about the level of unbudgeted expenditure only after the Herald-Sun catches them out.

Council expenses, which are due to be published today, are all funded by a bottomless pit of contingent funding from consolidated revenue. We have constantly requested the council provide a budget for Councilor expenses but they never release this information Why?. Because they do not have a budget preferring instead to just pay the cost as and when they occur. No constraints, no financial management and no responsibility.

We challenge and call on the City Council to provide a full detailed account of Games related expenditure so that ratepayers can be informed of the full cost benefits to the City in hosting this two week event.

Game on

Update: For more information and review see Andrew Landeryou's Blog for Freedom article on Cr Ng "Snouts in the trough"

Empire Building

City Council propose free tourist bus service to support fleeting Museum attendance. Residents' needs left wanting

City of Melbourne will today decide what appears to be a given with the proposed establishment of a free Tourist bus service. The Council is being asked to fund a 40 seat bus shuttle service between Southbank/Crown Casino and Carlton.

The City of Melbourne have already spent/allocated $500,000.00 and plans to provide a further $750,000.00 ratepayer subsidy at the average cost of $85.00 per trip. (four trips per hour 6 hours a day 365 days a year)

Problems exist in that the free-shuttle service has a limited route and directly undercuts private tour operators who already service this sector and have invested a considerable amount of money in their business. Other cities around the world provide similar services but most are subsidised by the commercial sector. Establishments such as Crown Casino stand to benefit from such a service. The Museum, which was poorly located on the outskirts of the City (An issue that was identified when Jeff Kennett ignored community and professional advice and shifted the location of the Museum from Southbank to Carlton), are hopeful the free tourist service will revive its patronage - which is well below expectations. The proposed route is already serviced by the tram network although it is not direct and not free.

Insufficient information has been provided by the City Council as to the assessment of alternative proposals and we wonder if they were given due weight and consideration.

The City administration report recommending the establishment of the free bus service lists dubious statistical information based on the number of responses they received for and against the proposed project. On what basis the Council can give weight to the numeric analysis of the number of submission and respondents is beyond me, other then it gives an impression that the service has wide support and is worthwhile and viable, but is it?. Reliance on the statistical information of submissions would be foolish and adds little to the merits of the project. Issues of economics, viability and assessment of alternatives outweigh the self interests statistics of those who made a submission.

The City Council is not a good or efficient provider of services. In most cases they are empire building, expanding the management job market within the Council.

Let's not forget the proposal, supported by former Councillor Kate Redwood, to establish mobility support/hire services for the disabled. The Redwood proposal was 3-4 times the cost of providing a similar service utilising infrastructure and services provided by existing community organisations such as Travellers Aid. Council should have considered more the submission made by former Lord Mayor Trevor Huggard. The council could have approached the Car Hire companies based in the City to asked for their support and assistance in providing this service to the public. Chances are hire companies would have offered their services free of charge as good corporate citizens, after all the provision electric wheel chairs is complementary the service they already provide. where they consulted?

The City Council should think twice before establishing a free tourist bus service.

Prediction: We expect that Council will soon find it need to put in significantly more funds and additional managerial services to oversee the provision of this service. The size of the buses will need to be reviewed with consideration given to the use of smaller buses that are better suited to manoeuvring though city traffic less city congestion. Operators will soon ask for more money. The proposed service in two to three years time will be closed down as it will be found to be economically unviable. The true cost of the project will not be disclosed as hidden costs will be allocated to other budgets and areas of expenditure. More money and limited resources wasted on ill-considered ideas designed to keep management busy.

Further consideration needs to be given, in preference to the proposed tourist shuttle, to the establishment of a mini-bus service linking East Melbourne, Carlton, Parkville and North Melbourne complementing and adding to the existing public transport connections currently available. This service could be run by private operators with a nominal fee per trip. It would significantly benefit residents of the East Melbourne, Carlton, Parkville and North Melbourne who currently have no access to cheap efficient public transport linking these areas, other then having to travel into the city centre and out again. Parkville in particular has limited public transport options available providing access to Carlton and North Melbourne shopping precincts.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Clown's review

Maoist, Anti-Zionist and betrayer of the people. A review of career and the face behind the makeup of Peter (Pan) McClown

Review of the life and career of a Clown based on the true life story of an Aged Sleepy Hollow actor.

Peter McClown, former disgraced Deputy Lord Clown of Clown Hall, the same McClown who sold out his Melbourne audience and supporters is now seeking to sell off Geelong's reputation and past heritage. He wants to build a commercial bridge across Yarra Street cutting off benefits to side alley traders.

Yes the same McClown that was elected to the City of Melbourne Clown Hall in 1996 on a platform of support for tradition, heritage preservation and opposition to the location of Melbourne’s Museum adjacent to the historical Royal Exhibition Buildings in the Carlton Gardens.

Within months of being nominated to the Deputy Clown role McClown soon betrayed his promoters and loyal supporters. He could not have bent over backwards fast enough to assist and please the King Ring Master, Jeffery "Gibson" Kennett, who continued to gamble and was seeking revenge for his past failed efforts to destroy Melbourne’s historic stage.

McClown would not support or advocate even the slightest change to Jeff's script. He was a devoted disciple of destruction and to everyones amazment voted against a motion (which lost by one vote) calling on the design of the Museum development to be subjected to an independent economic review and proper planning assessment. It was a reasonable, simple, request but he McClown would not support it.

Having sold-out his constituent investors, McClown, whose performance was not that good and declining faster then a sinking ship, was soon removed from his role as Deputy Clown and dumped overboard the following year (Two years short of his expected tenure).

Even though he lost the lead-understudy role and the Deputy's title he continued to play up on the fact that he once held the position and always mentions in his repertoire that he was once the Deputy and not just the fool.

His attempt to regain access to the centre ring was unsuccessful. He lost his re-election bid in 1999 and failed again, dismally, to secure the top Lord Clown position in 2000, having spent over $300,000.00 promoting his comeback tour.

McClown’s main achievement and talent, apart from selling out on the Museum issue, was how quick and skilled he was at assuming new roles. He should have been an acrobat given the way he flipped and flopped bending over as quick like he did. He was good. He could stick his head between his legs and grin widely whilst sticking out his tongue, trying to pull a funny face hoping to please the ring master.
(With all the make-up he wore you never knew if it was a smile of a frown)

He tried his hand at being an entrepreneur and stitched up a deal with American "exploiter of talent and cheap labour, the god of NIKE, and gave them a $200,000.00 subsidy, sponsored by Melbourne ratepayers, to set up a show in Bourke Street. (We didn't know that Nike made shoes for Clowns)

Rumours and facts have it he was one of the player-producer-writers behind the fooleries, lies and deceit of the junior-understudy Clown whose performance and antics brought the house down in 2000 resulting in the earlier closure of the 1999-2002 Clown Hall season.

Having failed to make it on the Melbourne stage, McClown moved to a new location, the Geelong-Corangamite region, a sea change to try to win a Federal role from the other troop of actors - the Corangamite Liberato Party. Whilst unsuccessful in 2004 he hopes to try again next time and he may succeed as the current incumbent performer is getting rather old and there is no apparent successor in the wings. McClown hopes to ride the wave of fortune as and when the tide changes.

In the meantime McClown has taken a job at the lesser known theatre at Geelong’s Clown Hall and is continuing to work on and develop his old scripts selling out Geelong’s past heritage and reputation.

My uncle, who was a long time Labor voter and resident of the Corangamite electorate said he could not support or vote for McClown in the last election. His assessment and independent review was made before I even had a chance to explain to him some of the history behind his act and the antics McClown got up to when he was on the Melbourne stage. (Not to mention his time as a student Clown at Melbourne’s law review where he would dress up as a Millionaire’s son and pretend to be Chairman Mao. He would recite his lines and make stupid statements like “religion was the opium of the masses” whilst spousing his hate for the Zionist cause.)

Thankfully some people could see beyond the makeup just how sad this Clown really can be.

“You can fool all of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all the time but you can not fool all of the people all the time.”

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Australian Open

Truly one of the Melbourne's best sporting events
(Second only to the AFL Grand Final)

Congratulations to the winners and organisers
of this years
Australian Open held in Melbourne.

It would have to be Melbourne's greatest international sporting event,
enjoyable to watch, and providing Melbourne with
the best economic return and international recognition possible
(beats the Grand Prix and Commonwealth games by a mile).

The quality of tennis was truly admirable

Thanks to all

Looking forward to the 2006 Olympic Games to be held next month.
Well done Melbourne!!

Governor in Council working in the past

New provisions of the Local Government Act in dispute

A whole host of amendments were made to the law affecting the governance of local councils.

One of the sections that were amended was section 74 Councillor Allowances.

It is worth noting the changes to the Act, which need to be read carefully, to try and understand what was envisaged and what will and should take place. (extract of before and after below)

Prior to the changes made to the Local Government Act, in 2003, the Government was able to control and limit the amount of allowances paid to Local Councillors.

This is done by way of an Order in Council - a joint decision of the Cabinet and Governor of Victoria published in the Government Gazette.

In 2001 the Governor in Council made an order, pursuant to section 74 of the Act. It is this executive order that limits and governs Councillors' allowances based on the category allocated to each Council.

A potential problem, that has been identified, is that the Bracks Government in 2003 replaced section 74 of the Local Government Act 1989 with whole new provision dealing with the payment of Councillors' allowances - Section 74 was changed and new sections (74B and 74C) modified/added (see extract below).

Previously orders of the Governor in Council were made under Section 74. Now they fall under the provisions of the revised section 74B.

So what you might say it's just re-indexing? Well there is more to it then that.

- If you read the wording before and after the changes you begin to notice the differences and the question you need to ask why was it modified and what is the effect of the modification?

There are different mechanisms at work depending on if you use Orders of the Council made under the old regime or an Order of Council made under the new section 74B.

Under the old system the Government would just make an executive decision and the cap was in place. To make any changes to the extent of allowances paid to Councillors all that the executive required was to amend the original order made in 2001.

The new system is somewhat different.

There is now a new mechanism or process that has to be followed in determining the allowances paid to Councillors and Mayors (although not fully implemented - why we ask?).

Orders in Council are now made pursuant to section 74B not section 74.
(As we understand each section of an Act is different and section 74B can not be construed as being a sub-set of section 74)

Section 74B requires the establishment an independent Local Government Panel to consider and make recommendations related to the any amendment of any Order seeking to change the allocated category of a Council which in terms determines the extent of limits to any allowance payable to Local Councillors. (s 74C(3))

The interesting part is that the Government MUST adopt the recommendations of the panel. (s 74C(4)). It no longer can make an executive decision as to which category a Council should be allocated (responsibility for determining allowance payments has effectively been delegated).

At first this looks like a hands-off approach with the decision made by an independent and hopefully professional panel, but is it?

The Government still get to appoint the panel, but it can not be sure as to the outcome of the panel findings, the Government have limited control and may be handing a loaded gun that may just explode in their faces.

It could be that a decision of the appointed panel is not to the government's liking or worst not palatable to the broader community. Under the provisions of the current act there is nothing that the government could do, it has to adopt the recommendations of the panel. The Government's hands are tied.

So what you may say? Well it gets more interesting.

The provision of the act related to the requirement for a panel only come into effect if and when the Governor in Council makes an order under section 74B - something that the Government to date has not done.

Why? It has been over two years since the legislation was changed.

Of equal concern is that there is no longer provision under the revised Act for the Governor to make any orders under section 74 (It lapsed when the act was changed). The authority for the Governor in Council to make any order is now pursuant to section 74B not section 74.

However the Government continues to make orders amending the original substantive Order made under the old section 74 of the act (now modified) but under what authority?

We do not claim to be a constitutional lawyers but it does seam rather strange and somewhat convoluted that the Government continues to operate under the provisions of the old act and not the current Act.

Why has the Government not made any orders pursuant to revised section 74B of the Local Government Act (as currently exists), revoking all previous Orders made under the old provisions of section 74 and replaced them with a new Order all together? This would have been a simple task but (for some reason) has not been implemented.

Strangely this is not what has happened. The Governor in Council still continues making amendments to the original orders issued pursuant to section 74 not section 74B.

If the Governor in Council has no authority to make an order pursuant to section 74 and that new orders should have been made pursuant to section 74B instead, then existing orders could be considered`null-in-void. It's a technical point but never the less potentially significant one - one that requires clarification.

There are questions that we believe need answers.

1. Are the Orders of the Governor in Council made pursuant to section 74 since 2003 valid under the current law?

We acknowledge that section 74B(4) states:

Any Order in Council that was made under section 74 (as in force immediately before the commencement of section 55 of the Local Government (Democratic Reform) Act 2003) and that was in force immediately before that commencement continues in force until it is replaced by an Order in Council under this section.

2. Does Section 74B entitle the Governor in Council to continue to modify old orders as opposed to making a new order under section 74B?

3. If the Orders in Council are not valid what is the status of the payments that have been made under the orders amended since 2003?

4. Why did the Government not make a new order under section 74B and replace the existing orders made under the old Act?

The answers may be in the detail of the legislation:

It could be that the Government is not really happy with the current legislation, by not making a new order under section 74B they are delaying or avoiding the implementation of provisions in the act they really do not want implemented?

We think this is the case and reason why a new order has not been made.

If they open the gates then the horses will bolt and it is the Government that will be held responsible for not taking control.

Section 74C only comes into play pending the establishment of orders made pursuant to section 74B order which to date do not exist, there for the provisions of section 74C do not apply.

The new provisions are a recipe for disaster and will result in a significant increase in the level and amount of allowances and benefits paid out to Local Councillors with the State Government unable to control it without legislation amending the Local Government Act.

There to needs to be more checks and balances in the system. Councillor allowances and benefits need to be subjected to a formal public review.

Councillors are elected representatives they are not employees. Any determination of allowances and benefits should be determined prior to an election and not immediately after.

The legislation as it stands is messy and fail to see what was wrong with the old version if the Government is not going to use the new provisons then why did they change it?.

- Extract of the Local Government Act as it exists today.

Part 4—Council Administration
Local Government Act 1989
Act No. 11/1989

74. Councillor and Mayoral Allowances

(1) A Council must review and determine the level of
the Councillor allowance and the Mayoral
allowance within the period of 7 months after a
general election.

(2) Subject to sub-section (3), the allowances
determined under sub-section (1) are payable
during the next 4 financial years.

(3) A Council can only vary the allowances
determined under sub-section (1) if—
(a) an Order in Council has been made under
section 74B which changes the range of
allowances that apply in respect of the
Council; and
(b) the Council has conducted a further review
of allowances.

(4) A person has a right to make a submission under
section 223 in respect of a review of allowances.

74A. General provisions relating to allowances

(1) A Mayor is not entitled to receive a Councillor
allowance if the Mayor is entitled to receive a
Mayoral allowance.

(2) A Council must pay a Councillor allowance or
Mayoral allowance as specified in the relevant
Order in Council made under section 74B.

(3) A Council does not have to pay an allowance
under section 74 to a Councillor or Mayor who
does not want to receive an allowance.

(4) A person is only entitled to receive an allowance
under section 74 while he or she holds the office
in respect of which the allowance is payable.

74B. Allowance Orders

(1) The Governor in Council may by Order in
(a) specify the amounts of allowances payable
by a Council as a Councillor allowance or a
Mayoral allowance;
(b) specify limits on the amounts of allowances
payable by a Council as a Councillor
allowance or a Mayoral allowance;
(c) vary the amount, limit or range of
allowances payable by a Council as a
Councillor allowance or a Mayoral
(d) specify the manner in which Councillor
allowances and Mayoral allowances are

(2) An Order in Council may make the same
provision for all Councils or may make different
provision for particular Councils or for different
categories of Councils as specified in the Order in

(3) After an Order in Council has made provision for
the categories of Councils, an Order in Council
can not be made to change the category of a
Council unless a recommendation to that effect
has been made under section 74C(3).

(4) Any Order in Council that was made under
section 74 (as in force immediately before the
commencement of section 55 of the Local
Government (Democratic Reform) Act 2003)
and that was in force immediately before that
commencement continues in force until it is
replaced by an Order in Council under this

74C. Advisory panel

(1) The Minister may appoint a local government
panel under Part 10A to advise the Minister on
matters relating to Councillor allowances and
Mayoral allowances.

(2) A Council may make a submission to the local
government panel requesting that an Order in
Council be made under section 74B to change the
category of that Council.

(3) If after considering a submission under subsection
(2) the local government panel considers
that the category of the Council should be
changed, the local government panel may make a
recommendation to the Minister that an Order in
Council be made to change the category of that

(4) The Minister must give effect to a
recommendation under sub-section (3).

75. Reimbursement of expenses

A Council may reimburse Councillors or members
of Council committees for necessary out-of pocket
expenses incurred while performing duties
as a Councillor or committee member.

- Extract of the Local Government Act prior to the amendments made in 2003 -

74. Allowances

(1) A Council must pay to each of its Councillors the
allowance specified in any Order in Council made
for the purposes of this section from time to time.

(2) A Council may pay to each of its Councillors a
higher allowance than that required by sub-section (1).

(3) However, the amount of the higher allowance—
(a) must not exceed any limit specified in any
Order in Council made for the purposes of
this sub-section from time to time; and
(b) must be the same for each Councillor.

(4) An Order in Council may specify that amounts
and limits higher than those specified for the
purposes of sub-sections (1) and (3) are to apply
to Mayors.

(4A) A Mayor is not entitled to receive an allowance as
a Councillor if she or he is receiving an allowance
as a Mayor.

(4B) An Order in Council may specify that different
amounts and limits are to apply in respect of
specified categories of Councils.

(4C) In paying an allowance under this section, a
Council must make the payment in the manner
specified in the Order in Council that specified the
amount of the allowance.

74B. General provisions concerning allowances

(1) A Council does not have to pay an allowance
under section 74 or 74A to a Councillor who does
not wish to receive it.

(2) A person is only entitled to receive an allowance
under section 74 or 74A while she or he holds the
office for which it is payable.

75. Reimbursement of expenses

A Council may reimburse Councillors or members
of Council committees for necessary out-of pocket
expenses incurred while performing duties
as a Councillor or committee member.

-- Governor in Council Orders published in the Government Gazette --

Gazette:G26 Summary:Local Government Act 1989 S74 - Amending the Councillor & Mayoral Allowances for Greater Dandenong, Port Phillip, Whittlesea Page
Issue Date:30 Jun 2005
Download Gazette: http://www.gazette.vic.gov.au/Gazettes2005/GG2005G026.pdf

Gazette:G26 Summary:Local Government Act 1989 S74 - Amending the Councillor & Mayoral Allowances for Greater Dandenong, Port Phillip, Whittlesea
Issue Date:30 Jun 2005
Download Gazette:

Gazette:G13 Summary:Local Government Act 1989 S27 - Ministerial Order fixing Allowances for Councillors in Country Areas
Issue Date:29 Mar 2001
Download Gazette:

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Melbourne City Council hard at Work

One item of business only listed for next Tuesday's meeting. What's not included in the public documents?

Melbourne City Council has been hard at work with only one item of business listed for next Tuesdays Meeting.

Meanwhile the Council's travel register and update on Councillor expenses has not been published.

Past Travel Register information is still missing (In spite there being a resolution of the Council requiring this information to be published - they will go to any effort to avoid or delay accountability)

Our request for information related to Council's undisclosed expenses still have not been answered, items are not listed on the agenda and the elected Council remains silent complacent in the ongoing abuse .

Missing are the expenses related to the Council funded Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayors' Limousines, internal catering expenses and the costs of in-bound missions. (If you can - take time to read some of the Greens' unfulfilled promises to the electorate. Greens Councillor, Brindley Fraser, maybe hasn't read them or if he has he is too busy generating Co2 emissions travelling overseas attending executive meetings of an third party international Confest organisations then he is in following up on the Greens' policy commitments - more on the Greens lies and deceit later)

Credit given where credit is due.

Cr Clarke has tried to raise a number of issues and obtain information for the public benefit but for reasons unknown, for what seams to be reasonable requests, he keeps getting voted down. (What do they have to hide I wonder?)

I thought the Council was obliged under the corporate standards, professional management and good governance guidelines to provide Councillors with relevant information on the management and administration of the City Council as and when requested.

Can you imagine the uproar if a member of a board and share holder representative of a major public company was denied access to corporate accounts and information on management. I am sure the ASIC would have a few things to say.

We will published our list of outstanding items when we have finished compiling them. It is a long list and we don't want to miss any items. (In future we will keep and publish our own register recoding the status of each item)

City Council Document management system

The City Council's document management system, costing 10's' of millions of dollars, has little to desire as the Council administration continue to make it as difficult as possible to access information, policy documents and reports.

The City Council, after numerous requests, have published the Council's register(s) of delegation but for some reason they have spilt the information into at least three parts stored in different location on their internet site. Inefficient at best - out right corrupt at worst. (Try finding all three - results for the lucky few who can find them will be published next week)

What's more there is no central register of decisions that have been made under delegation. There is no way for the public to know what decisions are being made, who made them and under what authority. There is no structured reporting system feeding this information back to the Council and available to the public. It is all done behind closed doors hidden away under commercial confidentiality agreements or decisions made under delegation that are not available to the public.

This raises a number of issues of concern as it would appear that no one really knows what's going on inside the Council. It is certainly not transparent, it's certainly not efficient. Our Councillors don't seam to care as they have not raised this issue or supported the right of other councillors to obtain information or act on previous complaints and recommendations. Maybe the administration has bought their silence with offers of overseas trips and other benefits - when information is made available it is behind closed doors or at illegal unauthorised meetings. The quality of governance continues to decline.

game on

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Deputy In Name Only (DINO) explained

Council held to ransom: Deputy Lord Mayor's resignation would cost the City up to $1million

Deputy Lord Mayor holds the City Council and State Government to ransom with the cost of a by-election costing the City Council up to one million dollars

The Melbourne City Council has failed to pass a vote of confidence in the Deputy Lord Mayor. Gary Singer, following revelations of professional misconduct and the appointment of the Deputy Lord Mayor's personal partner to a Council funded Arts position.

Under current legislation if Melbourne's Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor resigns more then six months before the next scheduled general election (due in November 2008) then the City of Melbourne must conduct a by-election costing ratepayers up to a Million dollars.

This must bear heavily on the minds of the State Government and our City Councillors who have failed to pass a vote of confidence in the Deputy Lord Mayor, Gary Singer.

Our City Councillors are faced with a dilemma. If they express a vote of no-confidence in the Deputy Lord Mayor and he resigns then the City Council will have to foot the bill of a new election. It would be cheaper for the Lord Mayor and Councillors to allow the Deputy Lord Mayor to retain his position, in name alone, and do nothing.

This would explain a lot of what's possibly going on with the proposed restructure recently reported in the Herald-Sun. (see previous posts)

Under current the provisions of the Local Government Act/City of Melbourne Act, if the office of Deputy Lord Mayor becomes vacant within six months before a general election then the City Council can elect one of their own to fill the vacancy and a count-back of the votes cast at the original election would determine who would fill the position of Councillor selected to become Deputy Lord Mayor. (In the case of a vacancy the in the office of Lord Mayor the Deputy Lord Mayor would assume office - It is unclear what the process would be if both Deputy and Lord Mayor resign simultaneously).

The rules related to the filling casual vacancies via a count-back of the original ballot maintain the democratic proportional representation of the Council and avoid the need for and associated costs of holding a by-election. There is no reason why these rules can not and should not apply to all casual vacancies and not just vacancies that occur within six months. (It should be noted that the count-back provisions are rather convoluted as there are two different options that can be chosen and each option can and will produce a different outcome - more on that latter)

What price do you put on democracy?

What happens if the Deputy Lord Mayor or Lord Mayor are hit by a buss, suffer an unfortunate accident or can no longer continue to fulfill their elected responsibilities. What happens if the elected Council pass a vote of no-confidence in the Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor?

The cost of holding a by-election weighs heavily on the deliberations of the City Council which is being held to ransom. It would be cheaper and more convenient to allow the person to remain in the position without any responsibility. They would continue in remain there in name alone, eligible to receive payment of allowance and other benefits.

The method of filling casual vacancies in city wide or multi-member electorates MUST be reviewed.

The City Council should not be held to ransom by a person who has lost the confidence of the elected Council or be burdened by the costs involved in the conduct of a by-election should that person resign.

The responsibility for this situation lies with the State Government who must now review the Local Government Act in respect to casual vacancies.

The State Government must act and review the whole system of filling casual vacancies as well as the model of direct election of Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor must at all times maintain the confidence of the elected Council. State government legislation must address situations where the Council nolonger has confidence in it's Mayor.

The alternative method of filling casual vacancies via a count-back system, as currently exists in legislation related to casual vacancies that fall within six months of an general election, should be extended and apply to all casual vacancies that occur during the term of office of the elected Council.

City of Melbourne Act

Section 24. Filling of vacancies

(1) If the office of Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor
becomes vacant 6 months or more before a
general election
is due,
an election to fill the
vacancy must be held
on a Saturday to be
appointed by the Chief Executive Officer that is
not later than the 100th day after the vacancy

(2) If the office of Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor
becomes vacant less than 6 months
before a
general election is due,
it is not necessary to hold
an election to fill the vacancy
(3) In the circumstances specified in sub-section (2)—
(a) if the office of the Lord Mayor becomes
vacant, the Deputy Lord Mayor becomes the
Lord Mayor on the passing of a resolution by
the Council that an election to fill the
vacancy not be held; and
(b) if the office of the Deputy Lord Mayor
becomes vacant, the Council may appoint a
Councillor to fill the vacancy; and
(c) if the Council does so, the subsequent
vacancy in the office of the Councillor
appointed is to be filled in accordance with
Schedule 3A and section 37A(4) of the
Local Government Act 1989.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

If you drink and drive you're a bloody idiot

If you drink, drive and are a politician or public servant then its time to resign

Melbourne City Councillor under the spotlight

The Age newspaper has rerun a story that broke last year pertaining to Cr Fiona Sneden and allegations made against her. Cr Sneden has been charged with refusing to take a breath test which if true results in two year suspension of licence.

Link to online story (The Age 25 Jan 2006)

The details and facts of this case are sketchy, Cr Sneden claims that she was not in charge of the vehicle at the time. If this is true and she was not the driver then there is no reason why she should be required to undertake a breath test and it is possible that the police have overstep their mark.

The matter is before the courts and we don't know the exact circumstances. We will have to wait and see what transpires.

Drink driving is a serious offence and one that can not be dismissed lightly. Our public officials, in particular, must stand up to scrutiny and meet community standards and expectations.

Former Victorian State Liberal MP Olexander clearly had breach that standard last year when he was caught well over the limit, he was reckless and stupid, and has paid the ultimate price. (If you ask me he got off lightly. )

As this is a serious offence and we will give Cr Sneden the benefit of doubt for the time being but if it proves otherwise she should reconsider her position.

The time has come for Victoria to consider a zero alcohol limit for all drivers helping drive the message home DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE.

Whilst it is unknown, by us, if Councilor Sneden was returning from a Council function at the time of the incident, the timing is right for the City Council to review its policy of supplying free alcoholic beverages at Council functions.

The supplying of alcohol at Council functions leaves the Council open to liability in the event of any associated accident. Something that Alison Lyon, Council's legal officer failed to point out to the City Council. The cost of "Free"Alcohol is something that ratepayers should not have to pay for.

Cast of actors change roles as Singer side lined to the back stage

City Council and Lord Mayor's office in crisis. Singer must resign

Melbourne's Lord Mayor, John So, not to be outdone by our prime-minister, jumps on the band wagon and seeks to reshuffle the lead actors of the pantomime - relegating Singer into a "do nothing" understudy role.

Herald Sun: Singer roles go in revamp [25jan06]

The Herald-Sun has broken the news confirming information provided to us late last week from our sources within the Council governance department.

John So's reshuffle follows on from recent revelations of Cr. Gary Singer's professional mismanagement, resulting in at least two jurisdictions expressing concern about his professional practice, and questions surrounding allegations of favouritism in the appointment of his personal partner to a Council funded Arts position.

The restructure announced by the Lord Mayor can only be seen as a vote of no confidence and acknowledgement that the Lord Mayor's choice of Deputy was a mistake. This is not the first time John So has had to distance himself from his choice of Deputy raising further concern about So's ability to provide overall leadership to the City Council.

No care, no responsibility on full pay and benefits.

Cr Singer, who receives twice the allowance of other Councillors, will now do less then half the work but will still continue to receive his allowance and benefits associated with his position as Deputy Lord Mayor. Councillor Singer continues to benefit from lurks and perks of the Deputy Lord Mayor Office, including an "all expenses paid" Council funded self-drive limousine, private office and secretarial support staff. Melbourne's Deputy Lord Mayor is now a position with title but no responsibility.

This is unacceptable.

In the absence of a vote of confidence Councillor Singer MUST resign from the Council and a replacement found.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Council replies but provides no answers

Why is Council footing the bill for the executive governance expenses of a third party orgainisation?

City of Melbourne replies to concerns related to costs associated with Cr Brindley's overseas Travel.

We received a half backed response from Cr Brian Shannahan, Chairman of the Council Finance Committee, re: Council Brindley's executive membership of a third party organisation and his proposed African Safari/Conference to our previous correspondence. (Addditional post)

Cr Shanahan's reply failed to outline or provide an explanation as to why the Council is paying for the costs of Cr Brindley's executive membership of a third party organisation and under what provision of the Local Government the Council?

Cr Brindley was appointed to the executive of ICLEI (An international environment talk fest organisation) last year following the Melbourne's City Council's agreemeent to pay the cost associated with Fraser's Brindley membership which includes numerous overseas trip to attend executive meetings. (The African trip is budegeted to cost $9,000.00 for a five day Safari - thats just over a third of a Councillor's annual allowance)

It is one thing to be a member of this organisation attending the odd conference/junket but another for the Council to pay the "out-of-pocket cost" associated with the executive expenses of a third party organisation.

Surely ICLEI's executive expenses should be met by ICLEI and not the City of Melbourne. After all they are responsible for their own governance not Melbourne.

The City of Melbourne can find any excuse to pay any expense related to "fact finding tours" and the like if you take such a broad definition of a Councillor's duties. In our view the executive expenses of ICLEI do not fall under the provision of section 75 of the Local Government Act as they are not directly related to the role or duties of a Councillor.

Why can not Cr Brindley and ICLEI use internet video conferencing for their executive meetings as opposed to jet-setting off around the world, strutting the International stage at the expense of Melbourne ratepayers and the environment? A quick look at the Australian Conservation Foundation web site and you will see they recommend exactly that. Each trip abroad by Melbourne Green Councillor Fraser Brindley is equivalent to approx 15 trees.

In meanwhile the State Government takes no action to address community concern at the ongoing miss use and abuse.

Motorcyclists hit the road

The Motorcyclist Riders' Association call on the State Government to review proposals to help reduce congestion

Motorcycle Riders' Association take to the road in protest of proposed changes to bans on lane splitting at intersections which seriously add to the congestion of road traffic and further compromising motorcyclists safety .

Herald Sun: Biker protest [24jan06]

The Government should be listening to the Motorcycle Riders' Association and find a workable solution to perceived problems.

The proposed ban on lane splitting must be reviewed.

The government should consider alternative proposals such as the sharing of designated bike lanes during peak hour traffic. (See link to previous post)

The government spend more money, resources and time addressing issues of cyclists then they do considering the needs of motorcycle riders. Vehicle registration fees are for motorcycles are excessive and should be reduced and more done to encourage and facilitate motorcycle riders needs. The road is there to be shared and motorcyclist are often forgotten or ignored in the process. The Government should reassess this issue.

Motorcycle and motor scooter riders deserve support and encouragement not persecution.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Calculating the Transfer value and segmentaton of the propotionalo representaton count - discussion paper

This paper seeks to address a number of issues related to the mechanics and formulas used in counting of multimember proportional representation ballots with the aim of establishing a one vote one value voting system

The following Issues of concern have been identified

1. Calculating the Transfer Value

2. Segmentation and distribution of votes allocated to candidates who are excluded from the count

1. Calculating the Transfer Value

The current formula used to calculate an elected candidate's surplus is seriously flawed and MUST be reviewed before the Sate Government implements a system of proportional representation. The greater the number of candidates to be elected the greater the distortion in the one vote one value principle.

This submission seeks to highlight and address issues related to the formula used in calculating the transfer value used in distributing and counting proportional representation election as it currently applies to the Australian Senate, Victoria's new Upper house and Victoria's Local Government Act.

This submission seeks review and calls on the State Government to amend current legislation so as to maintain the one vote one value principle and correct calculation of the proportionality of the vote.

This submission outlines for comparison two models used in calculating the Transfer value.

1) The method used by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) as outlined in the current legislation and

2) The preferred Alternative method that takes into account the proportional value of each vote and the candidate's surplus.

Existing legislation and current formula used by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC)

The Victorian State Government adopted the use of Proportional Representation as a method of electing Local Government Councillors to multi-member electorates and has also proposed in electing members of the new State's Legislative Council in Victoria

The VEC uses the current system and adopted formula (see below) mainly to "simplify" the counting process.

The problem that exists with the system used by the VEC is that it does not support the "One vote - One value" principle in that each vote is not transferred at a value equal in proportion to every other vote.

Each vote should be equal in value but with the system currently adopted there is a serious distortion in the value of the vote that has already been attributed to elected candidates and subsequently re-valued in the transfer of any surplus

The formula currently used to calculate the "Surplus Transfer Value" is value of the candidate's surplus (Sv) divided by the total number of ballot papers (P) received by the candidate (Sv/P).

On the face of it this formula appears to provide for the proportional allocation of a candidates surplus and, yes, this is the case in respect to votes if those votes are all of equal value.

The problem with the current formula is that it seriously distorts the calculation of the transfer value when a candidate's surplus is made up of votes allocated to the candidate of different values (i.e. votes received from an earlier transfer of a candidates surplus.)

The formula used by the VEC distributes each ballot paper at the same value even though some ballot papers have different values allocated to them then other votes. As a result of this distortion used ballot papers originating form previously elected candidates' that have a lower value are inflated at the expense of votes of a higher value that are devalued when calculating the value of any new surplus transfer.

The distortion in the value of the vote can and will produce a different outcome and result of the election, as is outlined in the example count sheet below.

Whilst the VEC might try and argue that the overall outcome is still the same (and yes the result may be the same) this is not always the case.

The likelihood of the system distorting the outcome of the election is significantly increased in Municipal elections where the voter sample is smaller in number. The bigger the voter sample the less chances of the results being different.

The impact of this distortion is further exacerbated with an increase in the numbers of candidates to be elected, as would be the case in an un-subdivided municipality.

This impact of this distortion is significant when determining the result of the ballot, where there are two or more candidates with the same value of allocated votes during the count. The value and correct weighting of the vote determine the order of elimination and election. Depending on which candidates votes are distributed, and in what order, the election result can change based on the formula used.

The main objection to the system currently outlined in current legislation and used by the VEC is that it distorts the "One vote – One value" principle in that some votes have a disproportional value of votes to other votes that should be equal. The current system favours major political parties whose votes will increase in value at the expense of votes allocated to minor candidates.

The Alternative method/formula.

There is a very simple correct alternative formula that should be used in the calculating of the transfer value.

The "Surplus" (S) value divided by the "Candidates Total Value' of votes (Ctv) and then multiplied by the value of the vote (Vv) allocated. (S/Ctv*Vv)

This formula supports the "One Vote – One Value" principle and is easily calculated and maintains the correct proportionality of the vote as opposed to the distortion that exists within the formula used by the VEC/LGA.


Below is an example count sheet demonstrating the differences in the two systems.

The example is based on a small voter sample of 1800 votes. The number of candidates to be elected is three and the quota has been calculated at 1800 divided by 4 = 450. There are five candidates A, B, C, D, E and their preference allocations is as follows:

Candidate A Pref


Candidate B Pref


Candidate C Pref


Candidate D Pref


Candidate E Pref

and 2,3,4,5,1

The Primary vote received by each candidate was: (Shown in numerical order for clarity)



Candidate A


Candidate B


Candidate C


Candidate D


Candidate E


Candidate A had received in excess of a quota and was declared elected and the value of the surplus votes was calculated and allocated to the next candidate in order of preference. As this was the first transfer of a Surplus the original value of the votes used was at full value (1). In this case the calculation of the Transfer value of the votes is the same using both the VEC and the Alternative formula.

No of Ballot Papers (P)


Value of Vote (Vv)


Candidates Total Vote (Ctv)


Quota (Q)


Surplus (S)


Transfer Value (Tv)


Tv x P


The allocation of Candidate A's surplus vote (150) to Candidate B elects Candidate B and inturn provides a second surplus value that needs to be distributed.

It is at this point that the difference between the two formulas becomes apparent.

Surplus Transfer of B
(Alternative formula)

VEC Formula

Primary Vote

Surplus of Candidate B received from Candidate A

No of Ballot Papers (P)




Value of Vote (Vv)



Candidates Total Vote (Ctv)



Quota (Q)



Surplus (S)



Transfer Value (Tv)




Tv x P





((Ctv-Q)=S) / Ctv * Vv

((Ctv-Q)=S) / P

As shown the use of the VEC formula has devalued the value of Candidate B's primary vote and inflated the proportional value of the surplus received from Candidate A destroying the "One Vote – One value" principle. Where as in the Alternative formula the proportional value of the vote is maintained – thus maintaining the "One vote – One value principle"

If we view the full count sheet for each system.

Count Sheet - Alternative Model - Correct weighted vote value








Candidate A



Candidate B




Candidate C






Candidate D






Candidate E











Candidates A, B and D declared elected. – maintains One vote – One value principle

Count Sheet - VEC model.








Candidate A



Candidate B




Candidate C






Candidate D





Candidate E











Candidates A, B and C declared elected. – does not fulfil One vote- One value principle

2. Segmentation and distribution of votes allocated to candidates who are excluded from the count

The other issue of concern related to the current method of counting the ballot and system of proportional representation is the distribution segmentation of ballot papers in redistributing votes allocated to candidates for are subsequently excluded during the count.

Aggregated segmentation

Under the current provisions ballot papers allocated to a candidate that is to be excluded from the count are segmented and redistributed according to a predetermined prescribed order.

The first transaction is the distribution of Primary "first preference" ballot papers allocated to the candidate to be excluded

Second and subsequent transactions based on the value of any other ballot papers (from highest value to lowest value) to be distributed. This includes secondary-primary votes (primary votes that came to a candidate via a second or lower preference distribution) and ballot papers received as a result of a previous transfer of a candidate surplus (if any).

All ballot papers that have the same value are collated and distributed in a single transaction.

There is a strong argument against the validity and need for the segmentation of distribution which can produce a different outcome in the results of the election.

Of particular concern is the aggregated distribution of secondary-primary votes which when used in conjunction with the current paper-based-formula, used to calculate the surplus transfer value, can change the order of election.

This system was designed and adopted to ease the manual counting of ballot papers and in doing so limit the number of separate transaction calculations required. It was also adopted to minimise the extent of distortion arising from the method used to calculate the surplus transfer value (as outline above)

It was at the time considered a reasonable trade off to be able to quickly determine the result of an election were counting of the ballot was done manually.

The requirement for segmentation is reduced where the counting of the ballot is undertaken with the aid of computer technology and where the calculation of the surplus transfer value is based on the value of the vote as opposed to the number of ballot papers (see above).

Alternative Methods:

1. Single Transaction option

All ballot papers belong to a candidate could be transferred in one single transaction (no segmentation).

This is a simpler and cleaner approach then the method of segmentation currently used it is based on the assumption that the distribution of votes allocated to the candidate to be excluded is distributed simultaneously. With the use of computer technology in the counting of the ballot a single transaction system could readily be implemented without the need for segmentation. - One transaction per candidate.

2. Full Segmentation – First in First out

If segmentation is to be retained then the preferred method is to segment and distribute each parcel of ballot papers determined by the order in which the ballot papers were received - First in first out. This option would require multiple transactions and with the aid of computer technology can readily be implemented. This option is preferable to the current system of aggregated segmentation and distribution of votes of the same value.

3. Single Transferable Vote by Meeks Method

Another alternative, preferable to the existing aggregated segmentation system. would be use the "Meeks Method" of distribution. The "Meeks method" is currently used in New Zealand elections and involves a comprehensive re-iterative distribution of preferences. New Zealand - Department of Internal Affairs: STV Information - Meek's Method


1. The formula, as currently legislated, used to calculate the Surplus Transfer value (Tv) MUST be changed so as to provide for a one vote one value voting system whilst correctly calculating the proportional value of the vote. The formula used must be based on the proportional value of the voting papers as opposed to just the number of ballot papers to be distributed (see item 1 above)

2. The `current system of segmentation in the distribution of the preferences should be reviewed with the any of the three alternative methods as outlined above be adopted in preference to the system currently in use. (see Item 2 above)