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it helped your business along or helped you to develop self
Is there something about your community that is really bothering
you and you feel you need to say your bit? Are you perhaps
concerned about the stop to weekend Meals on Wheels?
Now's your chance to have your say and be heard. You can
submit your article using the form below.
Fury on council electoral changes
By Jason Dowling
June 26, 2005
Candidates in local government elections would be banned
from criticising councils or listing their how-to-vote preferences
in candidate statements, under proposed changes to electoral
The changes, which have been labeled "undemocratic"
in a stinging attack by the Municipal Association of Victoria,
are expected to pass by August and will take effect for elections
to be held for 54 councils in November.
Association president Geoff Lake said the proposed Local
Government (Electoral) Regulations being introduced by the
State Government would significantly help the major political
parties and "cashed up individuals and people who have
the backing of a large developer or significant business interest".
Under the changes, there would be a "discontinuation
of candidate preferences as a component of candidate statements",
which are mailed out to all voters in postal elections.
Most local government elections in Victoria are now held
by postal ballot.
Mr Lake said the removal of preferences would "disenfranchise
voters, lead to a higher informal vote and would lift the
barrier for entry to genuine independent candidates in the
community that wish to stand for local government, particularly
in rural areas".
He said in country areas it could cost a candidate up to
$20,000 to post out their how-to-vote cards.
Candidate statements would also be banned from including
"comments about the decisions, actions or performance
of the council".
Mr Lake was incredulous that candidates would be curtailed
from explaining why they were contesting the election.
"Why does anybody run for council who is not currently
on there?" Mr Lake asked.
"It is normally because they believe there is something
that has happened in the past that can be improved.
"So why should people be denied their right, their democratic,
free speech right, to articulate their reasons for running
for council, their concerns or complaints with how council
has performed in the past and certainly their plan or approach
for how they can improve that in the future."
Mr Lake said the process for introducing the changes was
also flawed and "had been sprung on local government
at the 11th hour".
Mr Lake accused the Government of not consulting fully with
stakeholders or the community.
"This is not something that should be done on the run.
There are serious democratic principles at stake," he
"Therefore the Government should simply extend the current
regulations that are due to expire in December for another
12 months and have a more meaningful and in-depth dialogue
with the community and the local government sector over the
A spokesman for Local Government Minister Candy Broad said
the Government encouraged all stakeholders to provide feedback
on the proposed changes.
"All submissions will be considered in coming to a final
decision," he said.
He said the changes had been discussed with the sector over
a long period. "We are reaching the conclusion to what
has been a major consultation process," the spokesman