Only system changes could make councillors responsive

What Fred Charles fails to grasp (Do we have to wait another three years? Peninsula News, December 11) is that the majority of councillors do not represent the ward they live in or the ward they are elected from.

They represent the political party with which they are affiliated and they are fundamentally elected by the donkey vote of people who just mark 1 above the line, regardless of who the candidate is. As is obvious from the results of the election, these people make up the majority of Central Coast residents, so, if he expects to see a different makeup of council in three years’ time, he is being very naive. The Labor-Liberal parties could run a slate of candidates who don’t even live on the Central Coast, and the result wouldn’t be very different from the present one.

Of course, there are possible changes that could affect an election outcome and, perhaps, make councillors more responsive to the concerns of residents, such as Mr Charles. First, we should have 15 onemember wards, and it should be a requirement that a candidate live in the ward for which he/she campaigns: obviously, this would focus attention markedly on voter concerns. Secondly, there should be no party affiliations shown on the ballot paper, and a voter should have to fill in every box (or, perhaps, a minimum number of boxes) in order of preference: this will give every elector an incentive, at least, to know the names of the candidates.

Given that the council has been elected under the present system, it isn’t difficult to judge the likelihood that any such changes to the system will be welcomed, regardless of how they might benefit the ratepayers. Despite all the rhetoric aired during the campaign, we are already seeing voting along party lines, elusiveness of ward councillors and secrecy about council proceedings, and it is easy to project how these trends will develop over the life of the council. The reign of the administrator was nothing to write home about, but, in a couple of years’ time, we might be looking back on 2016/2017 with nostalgic regret.

Email, 17 Dec 2017 Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy

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