Greater Shepparton City Council has noted its opposition to the introduction of a subdivided, single member ward electoral structure for Greater Shepparton, at the September Council Meeting.
It comes after the Local Government Bill was released in 2019 proposing a number of amendments to the Local Government Act 1989. One of the key changes proposed was the implementation of a single member ward structure for Victorian Councils, with these changes anticipated to be implemented in line with the 2024 General Election.
In 2019, Greater Shepparton City Council lodged a submission opposing this reform. Some of the key reasons stated included the risk that some wards may have several strong candidates, while others may not have any, and that Council believes the ward structure would result in internal fighting over resources rather than Councillors having a ‘whole of municipality approach’. Council also acknowledged the 2015 VEC Electoral Representation Review which identified that an un-subdivided model was the best fit for Greater Shepparton City Council.
“The current structure encourages Councillors to think about issues across the entire municipality and allows for diversity in Council,” Mayor, Councillor Shane Sali said.
“The single member ward system defeats the purpose of what we are trying to achieve in Greater Shepparton which is an all-inclusive approach.”
Recent discussions were conducted with the current Councillors to further consider the organisations position on the matter. The key area of concern expressed related to the barrier this ward structure would present to minority groups. In particular, that the single member ward structure may negatively impact the likelihood of women from diverse backgrounds being elected into Local Government.
In anticipation of an order being made by the Minister for Local Government ahead of the 2024 General Election, Council formally resolved its position in preference of retaining its current electoral structure as an un-subdivided municipality. Council will now write to the Minister for Local Government to formally advocate this position and request that no Order in Council be recommended.
“Council will now look to partner with other Victorian Councils to further advocate this position, highlighting the challenges a single ward structure would present across many areas,” Cr Sali said.