Monday, December 15, 2008

Strike while the iron is hot

Peter Clarke pushes for electoral reform

Melbourne City Councillor, Peter Clarke, has moved a motion to kick start voter reform for the City of Melbourne in the wake of Melbourne's non-spectacular flop of an election last month.

Whilst electoral reform review is long overdue and should have been canvassed by the previous Council the proposal put forward by Clarke is half backed and falls short of community expectations.

The current system of representation has failed to deliver good governance and the newly elected council shows little sign of improvement more of a back slide into a council of ridicule and rip-off. Missing in Clarke's proposal is a review of the City of Melbourne's external boundaries and the need to consider a Greater Melbourne option.

The Clarke proposal failed to mention a review of the direct election of Lord Mayor and the leadership team structure.

The motion put forward by Clarke needs further review,consideration and direction.

For example: Who is going to conduct this review? Will it be the City Council itself or the morally corrupt and incompetent Victorian Electoral Commission? Neither body is capable of delivering the level of review and independence that the city requires.

Without a well spelt out, all encompassing ,terms of reference we can not expect any review to deliver on expectations.

You can not resolve the problems facing the City of Melbourne in isolation.

In the end it is the State Government that must take responsibility for any review. The Council needs to call on the State Government to show leadership and governance (something that has been remiss when it comes to the City of Melbourne).

The City Council needs to outline in more detail its proposed terms of reference and call on the State Government to commit to a wide review that involves all Melbourne's inner City municipalities. The Council needs seek a commitment for the State Government to a time frame and method of a review and in doing so needs to make sure that the review addresses all the real issues and is not just window dressing.

The other issue of concern is Clarke's proposed reintroduction of exhaustive preferential ballots. This must be rejected outright as it is undemocratic and a back slide into the past where 50%+1 elected three or more Councillors. If we are to re-embrace multi-member wards then it must be on the basis of proportional representation.

Clarke's motion , whilst a small step in the right direction, needs more work and serious consideration not just quick fix ideas, a slap them up, half baked proposal dreamt up between Christmas cocktails and celebratory drinks, designed to fill the blank pages of the council's agenda.

Agenda Item 6.2 - 16 December 2008


1. That the City of Melbourne request the Minister for Local Government to immediately
commence a review of the provisions of the City of Melbourne Electoral Act, including
but not limited to:
1.1. governance processes;
1.2. voting system (is exhaustive preferential and proportional);
1.3. the number of Councillors and possible re-introduction of wards; and
1.4. other matters the community may wish to consider.
2. The previous Council agreed to a review post the 2008 election. During the 2008 election
campaign, all elected councillors agreed to support a review of the current system.
3. The community via CORBA – Coalition of Resident and Business Associations – has
pressed the urgency of the need for an electoral review. We must respond and act
decisively whilst the election is fresh in our consciousness.

Moved: Cr Clarke

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