10 years on Image

10 years on

Melbourne Water moving to Docklands

Away from the desk Image

Away from the desk

The little bent tree

Chamber update Image

Chamber update

COVID-19 and Docklands businesses

Docklander Image


A staunch Docklander

Docklands Secrets Image

Docklands Secrets

Conflicting speeds



Owners' Corporation Management

Performance-based alternative solutions the key to cheaper cladding replacement costs

Fashion Image


Top five street style trends

Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Don’t let working from home compromise your health and wellbeing

Letters Image


Bring on the lasers

Business Image


Something fishy from The Espressionist

Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

Social distancing in apartment blocks is hard to do, but necessary right now


Tyranny of distance?

Pets Corner Image

Pets Corner

Full of Beans!

SkyPad Living Image

SkyPad Living

OC support in a time of COVID-19 - a tale of two cities …

Street Art Image

Street Art

Goodbye from Blender Studios


How fast is fast fashion?

The District

Eat your way through our most delicious hot spots

We Live Here Image

We Live Here

Microorganism dismantles Airbnb - will it ever recover?

Abby's Angle  Image

Abby's Angle

The world is a battlefield. Fight, but without exception, choose kindness


Reforms are a “backwards step”

02 Jul 2019

Councillor for the City of Melbourne (CoM) Rohan Leppert has slammed the state government’s proposed changes to multi-member wards as part of its plans for a new Local Government Act.

It comes after Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek announced on June 17 that the government was seeking the community’s feedback on six new reforms, which propose changes to areas including election donations and multi-member wards.

While the CoM isn’t impacted by all of the proposed changes due to having its own Act, Cr Leppert denounced many of the reforms as “controlling” and a “backwards step” for women and diversity in local government.

The six new proposed reforms (and their impacts on the City of Melbourne) include:

  • Simplifying and clarifying enrolments for voters in council elections. It is proposed to remove the requirement for the CoM to directly enrol property owners and corporation representatives whose primary residence is outside Australia. Those people will retain the right to apply for enrolment.
  • Introducing mandatory training for council election candidates and councillors. All new candidates at council elections will be required to undertake training in order to nominate. All elected councillors will be required to undertake induction training within six months of being elected.
  • Capping electoral campaign donations and gifts. Foreign electoral campaign donations will be banned at all councils. Campaign donations from a single donor to candidates and candidate groups will be capped at $4000. The threshold by which campaign donations and other gifts must be disclosed remains at $500 for the CoM.
  • Allowing for the dismissal of a councillor after a community-initiated commission of inquiry. If a Councillor Conduct Panel makes a finding of serious misconduct against a councillor twice in eight years, that councillor will be disqualified for four years. If a petition is received by more than 25 per cent of enrolled voters at a council calling for a Commission of Inquiry into a council, and the Commission subsequently makes a finding that a councillor has significantly caused/contributed to governance failures at the council, the councillor is disqualified for four years.
  • Defining standards of conduct. All councils must have Councillor Codes of Conduct which include standards of conduct prescribed in regulations. A legislated arbitration process will also be put in place to deal with allegations of councillor misconduct rather than councils developing their own processes.
  • Introducing a preference for single member wards. CoM is an unsubdivided municipality as specified in the City of Melbourne Act 2001 and it is not proposed to change this.

While CoM won’t be affected by the change to ward structures, other councils with multiple member wards would now be broken up into single member wards as a default, with a councillor dedicated to a single postcode, for example.

Mr Somyurek argued that the new laws would help councils be more accountable, democratic and responsive.

“These changes boost consultation and engagement between councils, residents, ratepayers and businesses, as well as providing for ongoing accountability,” he said.

The 2019 Bill builds on from the Local Government Bill 2018, which was the result of a three-year consultation with councils, communities and sector bodies and was informed by an expert panel.

The draft of the Act allowed for councils (other than the CoM) to be constituted in one of three ways: an un-subdivided district, multi-member wards of equal number of councillors or single-member wards.

“This extraordinarily controlling change to the local government electoral structures is the opposite of the government’s stated aim of returning control of councils to communities,” Cr Leppert said. “The consequence for community representation will be a massive backwards step.”

According to current data from the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), 41.4 per cent of councillors in multi-member ward councils are women, compared to only 33.9 per cent in single-member wards.

Cr Leppert said a move to abandon multi-member wards would lead to an increase in disproportionate voting and less diversity.

“Proportional systems of voting produce more representative elected representation – it’s as simple as that,” Cr Leppert said.

“Why is this Labor government trying to eradicate proportional representative models and make it harder for women to be elected? Such sweeping change to local government needs to be subject to proper scrutiny, not just dropped on the sector as the new minister’s pet reform to game local elections.”

“Minister Somyurek’s track record on how he works with women is well known; he’s already lost the Premier’s confidence once before. Now he is pursuing measures that will worsen systemic discrimination against women in local government elections.”


Share on Facebook

Stay in touch with Docklands. Subscribe to FREE monthly e-Newspaper.

You must be registered with Docklands News to be able to post comments.
To register, please click here.