VEC calls partial recount

Seven of the successful Bass Coast candidates assembled for the announcement last Saturday evening at the VEC Electoral Office in Wonthaggi. They are, from left, Brett Tessari, Les Larke, Steve Fullarton, Clare Le Serve, Bruce Kent, Geoff Ellis and Pam Rothfield. Absent Julian Brown and Michael Whelan.

Seven of the successful Bass Coast candidates assembled for the announcement last Saturday evening at the VEC Electoral Office in Wonthaggi. They are, from left, Brett Tessari, Les Larke, Steve Fullarton, Clare Le Serve, Bruce Kent, Geoff Ellis and Pam Rothfield. Absent Julian Brown and Michael Whelan.

ONLY one former councillor was left standing in Bass Coast, Clare Le Serve, and three in South Gippsland after voters cut a swath through the old regimes in both municipalities in last month’s local government elections.
The end result was eight new councillors in Bass Coast and five in South Gippsland.
Nine sitting councillors in total lost their seats; Crs Neil Rankine, Kimberley Brown, Phil Wright and Brad Drew in Bass Coast and Crs Mohya Davies and Jeanette Harding in Coastal Promontory, the Mayor Cr Bob Newton in Strzelecki and Crs Jim Fawcett and Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks in Tarwin Valley.
Crs Kieran Kennedy, Andrew Phillips and Bass Mayor Jordan Crugnale declined to nominate.
Elected in Bass Coast were Les Larke, Brett Tessari and Julian Brown in Bunurong ward; Pam Rothfield, Stephen Fullarton and Michael Whelan in Island ward and Clare Le Serve, Bruce Kent and Geoff Ellis in Western Port ward.
But it was a very near thing all the same.
At one stage in the count last Saturday, there were just two votes separating Kimberley Brown on 1560 votes and an ultimately unsuccessful candidate, Val Ogier, on 1562 votes, after she picked up 202 preferences from the ‘excluded’ Maurice Schinkel, but it meant that Ms Brown was eliminated from the count at that stage.
For the sake of two votes, she would have gone past Michael Whelan on preferences to claim back her seat.
However, as late as 4.30pm yesterday (Monday), the VEC was still conducting a ‘partial recount’ of informal votes to check the outcome.
At this stage, they say they don’t anticipate needing a full recount.

South Gippsland
In South Gippsland, the successful candidates were Alyson Skinner, Ray Argento and Jeremy Rich in Coastal Promontory ward; Andrew McEwen, Aaron Brown and Lorraine Brunt in Strzelecki ward and Don Hill, Maxine Kiel and Meg Edwards in Tarwin Valley ward.
These are ‘provisional’ results only and could change prior to the official declaration of the polls at 10am on Wednesday, November 2.
While councillors will be asked to sign a Code of Conduct which says they must act in “best interests of the whole community”, there’s already been concern expressed that the biggest town in the shire, Leongatha, will be unrepresented on the new council.
“It’s disappointing to see that Leongatha dosen’t have its own councillor but I’ll be coming along to meetings to keep an eye on things,” said one of the unsuccessful candidates, a Leongatha resident, Graham Heath.
President of the Leongatha Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Brenton Williams, was however confident the community could work with the three new Tarwin Valley councillors.

A fresh start
The poll in the neighbouring shires did produce an interesting anomaly, however, that historians tell us has never before occurred in local government elections, following the election of two brothers, Julian Brown, 35, in Bunurong (Bass Coast) and Aaron, 30, in Strzelecki (South Gippsland).
Speaking about the result, Aaron said he saw it as an opportunity for fresh start, a new beginning for the people of the shire.
“It show that people were ready for a change. Promontory Coast has three new councillors, Strzelecki two and Tarwin Valley two.
“I’m confident they will bring new ideas and a new way of doing things and I think it can be a really good council. I’m certainly positive about the future and the prospects of us being able to work together as a team for the betterment of the shire.
“Of course I’m humbled and honoured to have been given the opportunity,” he said.
Brother Julian, was equally enthusiastic about the future for Bass Coast.
“I feel very fortunate to have won a position after what was a closely contested campaign in Bunurong.
“There have been a number of decisions over the past four years that people were disappointed about, including the closure of the Inverloch tip. They wanted a change and they voted that way,” Julian said.
Sons of the former State Minister for Transport, in the Kennett Government, Alan Brown, they clearly have strong political DNA but say they both ran their own campaigns.
“Dad was encouraging of course, but we made our own decisions during the campaign and that’s the way it will stay.”
A former candidate for Liberal Party preselection in the State seat of Bass, Aaron Brown, says his political aspirations weren’t a consideration when standing for election in South Gippsland.
“All my energies will be directed at my South Gippsland Shire responsibilities,” he said.