Under the Local Government Act 2020 thirty-nine local councils must have their electoral structure reviewed, as part of this process residents are encouraged to have their say.
The Surf Coast Shire review started on February 1 and the first round of public submissions ends on 22 February. There will be a second opportunity for engagement from 22 March to 12 April, with the overall process to conclude on 17 May.
More information about the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) reviews of electorates can be found on the Council website and links to the VEC: https://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/About-us/News-and-media/Surf-Coast-Shire-Council-electoral-structure-review
It’s important that people interested in their local government representation engage with this and consider making a submission. Weight will be given to community views and particularly ‘Communities of Interest’ (see below) where communities feel there are important specific reasons for a certain electoral structure.
Rural Councils must be structured in one of the following ways:
- Multi-councillor wards with an equal number of councilors per ward.
- Single-councillor wards.
A detailed timeline and further information about each stage of engagement is available on the website at https://www.vec.vic.gov.au/electoral-boundaries/council-reviews/electoral-structure-reviews/surf-coast
To ensure all councils meet these requirements, the Minister for Local Government has formed 2 panels to conduct electoral structure reviews of the 39 non-compliant local councils over the next 18 months.
The panels will consider if the council:
- has an appropriate number of councillors (must be between 5-12, depending on number of voters)
- should be one large un-subdivided area or subdivided into wards.
if subdivided, the panel will consider:
- how many wards the council should have
- how many councillors should be in each ward
- the ward boundaries (noting that if the local council is divided into wards, the number of voters represented by each councillor should be within plus-or-minus 10% of the average number of voters per councillor for all wards. This is required by the Act and ensures the principle of ‘one vote, one value’.)
- the name of each ward
An electoral structure review cannot:
- change the external boundaries of a local council
- divide local councils
- combine local councils.
Special consideration may be given to ‘communities of interest’. Communities of interest are groups of people who share a range of common concerns or aspirations. They are different from ‘interest groups’ or ‘pressure groups’ that identify themselves based on a limited number of issues. Communities of interest may exist because of geographic reasons (for example, a town or valley) or economic reasons (for example, people working in similar or mutually dependent industries).
Communities of interest are an important consideration in electoral structure reviews as they have different needs and it is important that communities of interest have the opportunity to be fairly represented by their council. There are several ways to take account of communities of interest, depending on how they are distributed geographically. See the submission guidelines on VEC website for more details.
The panels are formed by the Minister for Local Government on a fixed term to carry out electoral structure reviews.
Under the Local Government Act 2020, the VEC does not conduct the electoral structure reviews, but does provide administrative and technical support to the panels. The Electoral Commissioner (or their delegate) must be a member of a panel.
The Minister has appointed the following panels to conduct reviews in 2023–24:
- The Hon. Frank Vincent AO KC (Chair)
- Ms Liz Williams
- Electoral Commissioner Mr Warwick Gately AM
- Ms Julie Eisenbise (Chair)
- Mr Tim Presnell
- Deputy Electoral Commissioner Ms Dana Fleming.
To make a submission, first read the FACT SHEET and SUBMISSION GUIDELINES on the VEC website at https://www.vec.vic.gov.au/electoral-boundaries/council-reviews/electoral-structure-reviews/surf-coast
Questions can be emailed to ESBR.email@example.com
Submissions should be brief and address:
- Your preferred electoral structure
Proposed ward map if desired (see useful mapping tool provided on website)