Stand and deliver
WITH slightly more than a month before City of Greater Geelong council postal voting closes on Friday, October 27, around 30 people have announced they will stand for election.
About half — a Melbourne Cup field — will do battle for the two seats in the central Brownbill Ward, while the other three wards, Windermere, Kardinia and Bellarine, each with three seats, to date have attracted a handful of candidates.
Official nominations open on Thursday and close the following Tuesday, while ballot packs will be mailed out between October 10 and 12 and voting will close on Friday, October 27.
It does seem extraordinary that while voters will be able to elect a new council following the sacking of our previously elected body nearly two years ago, the State Government has appointed two people to “monitor” the new elected body.
Former Committee for Geelong CEO — and one of the three council administrators appointed following the sacking of the council — Peter Dorling, and former commission of inquiry member Jude Munro will be paid $1200 a day each to keep an eye on our elected representatives.
There are some very good candidates standing for election, people with wide community service and business experience.
Five members of the previous council have also announced they will stand and two former councillors the pre and early postamalgamation eras.
Voters have the opportunity to decide whether to elect a completely new council or a mix of experience and new blood.
I think it important for voters to be aware that council is a $400 million a year business being managed on behalf of ratepayers: in short it is our money being held in trust and to be spent to our benefit.
Candidates should also be open about their politics — or their independence from political parties — so that voters know who and what they are voting for.
We don’t want political idealogogues — well I don’t anyway — wasting our money on their pet causes.
On the other hand, to be fair, if people do run with issues, such as changing Australia Day for example, and are elected, they do have a right to argue for them in council.
But if they do not put them before voters during their campaigns, too bad.
Also, I still believe voters should be told which former councillors were involved in bullying or caused the dysfunction that led to the sacking of the previous council
What happens if we inadvertently elect some of those people again?
Surely the State Government, if it has spent and is spending ratepayer money on a commission of inquiry, council sacking, administrators and now monitors and new elections, has a responsibility to ensure that people
whose actions led to this expenditure do not get elected again?
Let’s hope our council elections will deliver the council we need to work with Deakin University, the Gordon Institute of TAFE and other stakeholders to reduce poverty and unemployment and enhance and deliver on the longheld vision for a vibrant city and region successfully transitioning to a knowledge economy.
I just hope we elect the people who can help realise Geelong’s potential.
Jude Munro and Peter Dorling.