A blueprint for LG political reform?

Central Coast Council Photo: Justin StanleyCentral Coast Council Photo: Justin Stanley

Forum –

If there is to be a revamping of the Central Coast electoral system (CCN, February 5). there are four important considerations.

First, if we are going to have a paid, full-time mayor, the post should be filled by direct vote of the electorate.

The position should not be in the gift of political factions who can use it to reward loyal incompetence or to further political in-fighting, as we have seen in the current council.

Those who pay should decide.

Secondly, there should be a serious choice on the number of councillors we want.

I am far from convinced that better conclusions are reached by smaller numbers of councillors: if that were the case, we’d obviously be best advised to elect a dictator who could make untrammelled decisions on our behalf.

Other councils have 15 councillors and seem to manage well enough, and, while I am all for economy in ratepayer expenditures, I also believe that there should be as wide a representation as possible, which is obviously limited if there is only a small number of councillors.

Thirdly, on the question of citywide or ward elections, it seems that we have tried both and that there doesn’t seem to be much to choose in terms of achieving (or not achieving) community satisfaction.

If we can have an independent Mayor elected at large, I think the balance of benefit lies with the ward election of councillors, but not in accordance with the present arrangement.

So, fourthly, we should have a system of single-member wards, so that there is one identifiable individual who is responsible to his/her constituents and can speak unequivocally on their behalf, instead of the present arrangement where nobody seems to be answerable to anybody.

There are already identified planning modules within the city that can be organized into wards with a community of interest, as compared to the present dog’s breakfast of ward boundaries that satisfy nobody.

Best of all if we can make it a condition that a councillor has to live in the ward: at present councillors don’t even have to live on the Central Coast to run for office.

If there is to be a referendum (and I think it is an excellent idea), there should be a full slate of options, and this will require the widest possible community consultation and extremely careful wording of the questions to be put.

Why cannot the Administrator draft a series of possible questions and call for online comment about them?

This could be done quickly at minimum cost and would give serious guidance to the formulation of final referendum choices.

We don’t need another yes/no survey along the lines of the one that has already drawn vehement criticism, but, perhaps, four simple questions could be put, to get a sense of the electorate’s main concerns.

Who knows: such a survey might even influence the final decision on the referendum, which would be a novelty in itself.

Email, Feb 7
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy