May­oral robes are ready for a rest, but plan di­vides lead­ers

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS -

COM­MU­NITY lead­ers have had mixed re­ac­tions to plans to slow down the re­volv­ing door of may­ors at lo­cal coun­cils in NSW.

Short terms can re­sult in may­oralty robes and chains chang­ing hands up to four times be­tween elec­tions.

The one-year may­oralty is divvied up be­tween po­lit­i­cal ri­vals via a sys­tem of “horse trad­ing” at the start of each lo­cal gov­ern­ment term at most coun­cils.

From next year, the State Gov­ern­ment is set to in­tro­duce two-year fixed terms as a new min­i­mum. Pen­rith Mayor Ross Fowler (pic­tured) said he would sup­port a move to in­tro­duce a min­i­mum of two-year terms for may­ors.

“There are some per­ceived ob­sta­cles, but in Pen­rith Coun­cil, the views of all coun­cil­lors are taken into ac­count shortly af­ter each four-year elec­tion and are merged with the coun­cil strat­egy and man­age­ment plan,” Mr Fowler said.

“I don’t sup­port a pop­u­larly elected mayor prin­ci­pally be­cause you can have a mayor who does not have the po­lit­i­cal sup­port of the coun­cil, such has hap­pened in the past in other lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas where may­ors have been pop­u­larly elected.”

Black­town Mayor Stephen Bali said he could see ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages to the longer terms.

“The ad­van­tage is con­ti­nu­ity of ideas and sta­bil­ity but there is a disad­van­tage, if the mayor doesn’t re­ally re­flect the com­mu­nity’s at­ti­tude then you’re stuck with that per­son for two or four years,” Cr Bali said.

The po­si­tions of mayor and deputy mayor for Black­town will be de­cided at tonight’s coun­cil meet­ing.

The vote at Pen­rith Coun­cil will be later this month.

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