Does a referendum really cost $1.75M?

Rik HartRik Hart - Council Administrator. Image CCN, June 2021

Forum –

Could we get it cheaper? Well, I think so.

It would appear that when the NSW Electoral Office advised it was unable to supervise/conduct our completely unnecessary referendum in September, Mr Hart’s first reaction was to look for an outside contractor.

Quote ‘Council (Mr Hart is the Council) has identified an appropriate provider … and at a slightly lower cost.’

I don’t recall seeing advertisements for this contract.

Perhaps there weren’t any.

While we’re at it, what do we get for this enormous expenditure of rate payers funds.

Perhaps those details are commercial-in-confidence so we will never know whether we really got value for money.

Nowhere have I read that he considered a small team of current staff for the job.

Bit of an insult really.

Let’s be fair dinkum, running this referendum is not rocket science.

There is only one question for the whole of the Council area, not five different ballot papers with lots of candidates.

Surely the list of polling booths can’t have changed that much in five years.

Perhaps it’s the number of ballots required at each particular booth that’s the tricky part.

The only body to know the details of where the increases in population have taken place is the Council, so they can ask themselves.

Forget all that, my biggest questions spring from Mr Hart’s statement that while the Electoral Commission could run our referendum in March 2022, should the referendum be carried forward to March, this would leave insufficient time for review and consultation of ward boundaries in time for a potential Council election in September 2022.”

Just hold your horses.

Let me get this straight.

We are going to vote on whether we want to reduce the number of wards from five to three and the number of councillors from fifteen to nine without knowing the boundaries of the new wards.

Mr Hart, who is going to be responsible deciding the boundaries of these new wards?

Are we, down here on the Peninsula, going to have a chance to decide who we are to be lumped in with?

Perhaps we mightn’t like them.

Perhaps they mightn’t like us.

One, with a suspicious mind, could believe that without proper checks and balances and a completely transparent process that a gerrymander could be on the cards.

Currently approximately 20% of the residents of the Council live in each ward.

Under this proposal that would increase to 33.3 percent per ward.

That is a lot more people per councillor.

It was almost impossible to get a few words with our councillors before.

Now it will be completely impossible.

While we’re at it, I read that Council (Read Mr Hart) has outsourced the collection of outstanding rates.

Again, I ask is there no current staff member to undertake this task.

These vultures will be preying on people who are already having financial difficulties and by adding their exorbitant fees and costs will only exacerbate their problems.

They take their cut first, so Council still doesn’t get any money.

Mr Hart said: “A lower turnout just for a referendum could be expected but even if only 10 per cent of voters turned out, it would still be a valid referendum.”

Democracy run riot.

I can hear the cash registers chinging away as they start chasing non-voters for the hefty fines that will be imposed.

Mr Hart, as a last suggestion, why not have two questions?

The second being: “Do you wish to de-amalgamate Central Coast Council.”

That I reckon would be a guaranteed winner.

Email, June 18
Laurie Powell, Woy Woy

1 Comment on "Does a referendum really cost $1.75M?"

  1. Laurie Powell makes a valid point $1.75 million is a lot of ratepayers money and the value for the dollars is questionable. Do we get to see a break down of the costs? Seems to be a very big profit margin? There appears to be a bit of railroading involved. No debate a compulsory vote and outcome already decided! Rik Hart may have been through this process before at other LGAs but l’m not completely convinced he has the Central Coast best interests at heart. Where is he getting directions from? The State government? The minister for Local Government just paraphrases State government policies and neglecting the numerous Local Government Audits over several years that something was amiss. Surely the amount of Central Coast Council debt should have rung alarm bells? These Local Government Accountants and Public Servants get paid big bucks to pick up these anomalies? Perhaps they should be joining the Centerlink queue? Unless of cause it works in with the State governments amalgamation plans. No judicial inquiry that would explore the whole government processes just a low level inquiry with the outcome already decided! Democracy seems to be making way for an autocratic system and we are allowing the process by not saying anything that would rock the boat. If we go down that path as many countries have then what we get is pork barrelling on an industrial scale excepted corruption and wastage of Tax money that makes organised crime look like robbing the piggy bank! Is this the furure? It looks very grim! Under cover of Covid has allowed laws to be introduced under the public radar on State and Local levels with little or no opposition. Major Asset sales with no scrutiny dodgy deals done behind closed doors and no one is responsible if it should sell below market value. What are we getting into? Some Politicians are now at the level of door to door sales people and take kudos for dubious suspect projects. Its time we woke up!

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