By Michael Giles
IT’S potentially as boring as bat droppings, the subject of a “Bass Coast Shire Council Electoral Representation Review”.
Even the name would make most people roll their eyes and turn the page.
But it’s an important issue to consider, nonetheless, because the outcome of the review, taking place at the moment, could make a huge difference to the way the Bass Coast Shire Council works and whether the community at large gets a better outcome.
Even if you’re not motivated by that, consider this…
Prior to the next council elections in October 2016, it’s highly likely that Bass Coast will have two additional councillors, nine in total, such has been the growth in the shire over the past five to 10 years.
That would take at least an additional $60,000 out of the shire’s coffers annually ($25,657 allowance/super per councillor plus expenses and equipment); less money for capital works and services.
As ratepayers, we could hope to get better representation for that money, but it’s still an issue.
Of more importance though is whether the shire remains subdivided into seven wards or is changed somehow, either into three wards of three councillors (like South Gippsland) or is completely un-subdivided (like Wellington at Sale).
Former Wellington Commissioner, John Guy, said recently that the community as a whole gets better decisions from a wardless council because the councillors are charged with the responsibility of doing what’s best for everyone, without undue impact from parochial pressures.
Former Wonthaggi Mayor and State MP, Alan Brown, begs to differ. He believes the people of Phillip Island would be even worse off under an un-subdivided system.
Perhaps a happy compromise would be to go for the South Gippsland system, three wards of three councillors.
So, as boring as it might seem on the surface, the review of Bass Coast representation has the potential to impact us all where we live.
If you would like to take a closer look go to vec.vic.gov.au where you can read the report and make an online submission. Preliminary submissions must be received by August 19.
Concern has been expressed about some allegedly unseemly efforts to secure the mayoral salary of close to $80,000 in the South Gippsland Shire and we will be watching with interest to see if any councillors are attempting to ingratiate themselves with fellow councillors by changing their voting patterns.