SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

IF YOU want to vote in the Bass Coast Shire Council elections in October this year, you must have your name included in the voters’ roll by Friday, August 28, 2020.
And if you want to nominate as a candidate for election, to be one of the nine councillors with a seat at the table of an $83 million-a-year business, you not only have to be eligible to vote, you have to nominate by Tuesday, September 22.
You’ve also got to be an Australian citizen and aged at least 18 years of age by election day.
Paying $250 and completing mandatory Local Government Candidate Training are the other two prerequisites.
But, eligibility aside, are we attracting the right people to represent us on council and does the system encourage enough of the right people to come forward?
The reality is we’re not.
And as a community we are suffering for it with bad decision making, lack of transparency and with an organisation that is so dominated by its bureaucracy that it runs the risk of being out of touch with the people it is supposed to be serving.
There are plenty of community-minded, well-qualified people who would stand for council if things were different.
At present, COVID-19 arrangements notwithstanding, it’s virtually a full-time job attending weekly meetings, keeping up to date with the paperwork and engaging with the community.
With an allowance of $28,000 a year, plus modest expenses, very few people, either employed or in business, could justify the time required.
Something has got to give, either the remuneration has to be more commensurate with duties or the amount of time required of the councillors has to be reduced and strictly controlled so a wider cross-section of people can put their hands up.
Despite the limitations, we have attracted some good councillors but there’s too much at stake not to have a strong field of well-qualified people from whom to choose.
Will the present system encourage that… it’s doubtful.