Push for local government overhaul, from south-west Victorian upper house aspirant

VOTERS are crying out for a systemic overhaul of local government including cuts to executive salaries, according to a west Victorian upper house aspirant.

Country Alliance lead candidate Garry Kerr is aiming to gain the much sought-after fifth spot for Western Victoria in the upper house, a feat the minor party nearly achieved at the last state election four years ago.

The Torquay-based businessman said many south-west voters were fed up with the respective councils and questioned the remuneration of chief executives and councillors.

“If you go to Hamilton, ratepayers are fed up with their council; if you go to Warrnambool, ratepayers are fed up with their council,” Mr Kerr said.

“It’s the same story right across the Western District. 

“Most of the councillors are either members of political parties trying to get into Parliament or they’re big-noting  windbags that wouldn’t be able to get a job anywhere else. 

“There are some good ones among them, don’t get me wrong. 

“But there’s so many that are just there to serve themselves, do nothing for the community and show up to functions for the free food and the glory that goes with it.”

Mr Kerr questioned why there needed to be seven or more councillors in most shires when four or five could provide the same level of representation. He said councils should return to covering basic services such as road maintenance and rubbish collection and leave environment and art matters to the state level.

“You have to wonder why rates keep going up every year when it’s paying for that lot,” Mr Kerr said. 

“It’s because they’re looking way past what they are required to do. It gives the officials an excuse to justify their wages.Maybe trimming back their responsibilities would also help to trim back staff levels and the constant rate increases.”

Country Alliance was formed eight years ago, primarily to oppose Greens policies. 

The minor party has support from a number of lobby groups including those associated with decentralisation, gun rights, hunting, angling and landholder rights. 

In the race for the fifth seat for Western Victoria at the 2010 state election, the Country Alliance was one of the final three parties in the preference count-back.

alex.sinnott@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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