CORANGAMITE Shire Council wants to remain the only local government in the south-west whose councillors are elected under a ward system.
The council will call for its ward system to be retained when it makes a submission to the state government’s review of the local government electoral process.
Cr Ruth Gstrein told the council’s meeting this week it was important the state government’s review did not propose one electoral structure for all councils.
Corangamite has five wards. Three councillors represent the central ward while the four other wards have one councillor each.
Cr Gstrein said the preferential system of voting for single-councillor wards and the proportional voting system for multi-councillor wards should continue.
“It’s important that we retain the status quo,” she said.
Corangamite mayor Chris O’Connor said he was concerned that some areas of the shire would be unrepresented if the ward system was abolished.
He is concerned that most of the councillors in the Moyne and Ararat councils are urban-based.
Cr Geoff Smith said the ward system had served Corangamite well and Cr Peter Harkin said voters loved the ward system.
The council will also call for local government candidates to declare donations and any endorsement by political parties in its submission to the state government review.
Cr Gstrein said candidates need not declare if they were members of a political party.
On the declaration of donations, Cr Gstrein suggested a date to be set prior to local government elections, after which candidates could not receive donations for their campaigns.
Candidates should have to declare donations prior to that date.
Councillors also called for police checks on local government candidates and for the end of the exemption from voting in local government elections for people aged over 70 years.
Cr Gstrein said there were a large number of people aged over 70 in the shire and the advent of postal voting would not impose much of a task on them.
She also called for the limit on candidate information issued by the Victorian Electoral Commission to be increased from 150 words to 200 words.
Cr Geoff Smith said mayors should continue to be elected by councillors, rather than the municipality.
Councillors should have that responsibility because they had to work with the mayor, he said.
If voters had that responsibility, mayors would hold the role for four years, which could cause problems if they did not have the support of councillors, he said.