The Victorian Greens have called on the new minister for local government, Shaun Leane, to ensure that any proposed council ward changes made by Adem Somyurek were done in good faith and not to corrupt local democracy.
They said that Victorians deserved certainty that the proposed changes were not politically motivated and aligned with the proposals put forward by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC).
Earlier this year Somyurek put forward new proposals for the ward boundaries of eight metropolitan councils – Bayside, Cardinia Shire, Darebin, Greater Dandenong, Kingston, Manningham, Maroondah and Whitehorse – that will adopt single-member ward structures ahead of the next local election.
These proposed structures have not yet been gazetted and so Leane will have to decide on them as the new minister.
Victorian Greens acting spokesperson for local government, Sam Hibbins, said in light of the recent branch-stacking allegations levelled at Somyurek it was critical for Leane to ensure that any ward changes made while Somyurek was in the ministry were done with expert advice in mind and not his factional mates.
As stated by Victorian Greens acting spokesperson for local government, Sam Hibbins MP:
“The revelations about Somyurek have made it clear that his priority as a minister was to stack branches with his factional mates.
“As minister for local government he proposed new ward boundaries for a number of councils and Victorians need assurance that this was done in good faith and not for political gain.
“The new minister must ensure that all proposed changes are in line with independent advice from the VEC before they can be given the stamp of approval.”