Council election results are mostly predetermined

Letters to the editor

On September 9 we will vote for 15 Councillors for the new Central Coast Council.

I will be overseas and not a candidate, but I am deeply worried about the self-serving plans the Big End of Town has for previously protected areas such as west of the M1, and the most beautiful aspects of our Central Coast: our public beaches; water access; lakes, bays, lagoons, creeks and rivers; National Parks, reserves, forests, our public roads, public hospitals, public schools, public everything, not to mention the absence of plans for Central Coast health, education, roads, transport. Why? Well, we know the two pronged pincer-movement from the Big End of Town is well-organised and cashed up. We know from the series of corruption scandals that the NSW Liberal Party has cash ready to go and that the previous Mayor of Wyong has recently rejoined the Liberal Party. We know that the mega-rich developer, John Singleton, has established a front-organisation which he calls the Central Coast Task Force with ex-Liberal Chris Holstein as its Chair, and masquerading as an “independent” champion of the Central Coast.

In the up-coming election, each of the five wards will elect three Councillors, 15 in total. To stand for election, you need not be a resident of the ward in which you are a candidate. This favours candidates backed by Big Money such as a ‘task force’. It is now possible, with this awful rule, to have a group of developers, all living in multi-million-dollar splendour on beachfronts, backed by Singleton’s radio stations and Murdoch’s Express-Advocate, standing for election and drowning out the local candidates in Gosford West or Wyong wards. If there is a way to change this rule it should be changed. It is a rule which clearly empowers out-of-area powerful and megarich against those with local knowledge, local concern, local history, local commitment and loyalty. I regard this as a corruption, a manipulation, of the intent of local government. The principle should be local people in local government. Once the 15 Councillors are elected, they will then elect the Mayor. To be the Mayor, you will need eight votes. To understand the current voting intentions within each of the five wards, as best I can, I have done some research. Over the last few weeks I have taken the ‘two-party preferred’ 2016 Federal Election vote from each of the polling booths in Robertson, Dobell and Shortland, and transferred them to the boundaries of each of the five wards in the new Central Coast Council.

The tabulated data is both interesting and available from me if anyone wants it (email van@vandavy.com). From this we can conclude: the Liberals have a strong advantage in Gosford East, Labor a strong advantage in Budgewoi, with the remaining three wards a small two per cent to three per cent leaning to Labor. If you were a powerfully motivated developer wanting to profit from the unparalleled opportunities offered by the beauty of the Central Coast and you knew of the importance of local government to protect the environment and represent the interests of the Common Good, rather than your commercial interests, what would you do?

Well, you would look at the two-party-preferred vote and conclude that, probably, each of the five wards will elect one Liberal and one Labor representative as a given, irrespective of how clever, committed, or sensible they are. The system is loaded. Genuine independents don’t get coverage from commercial radio or TV, or the Murdoch ExpressAdvocate. Even the ABC has blacked out, zero reportage, zero interviews, independent candidates in the past. So, the two major parties, irrespective of the quality of candidate, will get elected: five Liberal and five Labor.

That leaves another Councillor from each of the five wards and Singleton would know that. This is the ground for which “independents” will compete. In this space there will be: Green candidates; genuine independent candidates; single-issue independents; and, potentially, Holstein as independent and Chair of Singleton’s ‘task force’. This is where the competition will take place and this is where the game is loaded to favour Singleton and the developers. He ‘owns’ the mass media which will trumpet his candidates, while the independents will be starved of air space.

He will probably have high-profile candidates not living in the ward. To elect Eaton and Holstein as Mayor and Deputy will require eight votes, five Liberal and three Singleton-backed candidates. In my opinion, the Central Coast Council is ripe for a take-over by bankrolled, Liberal-connected politicians and developers posing as philanthropic, benevolent ‘independents’, but entirely committed to privatisation of public lands and assets and the personal wealth that that will generate for them. What is needed is a firmly-rooted community based array of genuinely independent candidates who are committed to the development of a comprehensive Central Coast grass roots Peoples’ plan.

Such a plan, if developed with genuine input and goodwill from across the vast community-minded sector of the Central Coast people, would represent a Peoples’ preferred future and could become the centre-piece of a vigorous election campaign. Political parties, especially Labor and the Greens, would be required to acknowledge the plan and its widespread support. Independents, and potential independents, will want to identify with it and run with it.

There may even be the possibility, as there is the technical certainty, of running a grass roots Peoples’ Plan Group with above-the-line status on the ballot paper, comprising a mix of independent candidates and existing party candidates. That, of course, would depend on the decisions of parties whether to run their own team of candidates, no matter what the quality or policy-base, or run their best in a team of the best candidates available. A Grass Roots Peoples’ Plan would need grass roots input and the weekends of February 4 and 5 and March have been put aside by me for this purpose.

Email, January 9, 2017 Van Davy, Pearl Beach

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