Count­back to new coun­cil­lor

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Anovem­ber

29 count­back of votes from last year’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions will de­ter­mine who re­places for­mer Ararat mayor Paul Hooper.

The count­back of Mr Hooper’s votes, which avoids a by-elec­tion, will be at Ararat and Grampians Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre at 10.30am.

Mr Hooper’s votes, based on voter pref­er­ences, will go to un­suc­cess­ful elec­tion can­di­dates and the can­di­date with more than 50 per­cent of count­back votes will join the coun­cil.

Mr Hooper re­signed from the coun­cil after an Ararat statu­tory meet­ing where mem­bers elected Cr Glenda Mclean as the city’s new mayor, de­spite Cr Mclean be­ing sub­ject to code of con­duct pro­ceed­ings.

He and Cr Jo Arm­strong walked out of the meet­ing. It re­mains un­clear who will fill the va­cancy. Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Al­lan Baw­den said the coun­cil had writ­ten to in­form the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment De­part­ment and the Vic­to­rian Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of the cir­cum­stance on re­ceiv­ing Mr Hooper’s res­ig­na­tion.

“With a multi-mem­ber elec­torate like this, if there are coun­cil va­can­cies it goes back to count­back. When a va­cancy oc­curs, we ad­vise the de­part­ment and elec­toral com­mis­sion,” he said.

In last year’s elec­tion Cr Arm­strong and Mr Hooper were the first two coun­cil­lors elected, hav­ing dom­i­nated first-pref­er­ence votes with 24.83 per­cent and 17.74 per­cent of the over­all votes re­spec­tively.

After the fi­nal count­ing of votes, in­clud­ing pref­er­ences, Cr Gwenda All­good was third, with 876 first pref­er­ences; Glenda Mclean, fourth, 379; David Pettman, fifth, 484; Peter Beales, sixth, 406; and Dar­ren Ford, sev­enth 374. Other can­di­dates were Mur­ray Woods 387, Frank Deutsch 282, Gary Hull 223, Fay Hull 222, Bill Braith­waite 169, and Ber­nadette Atkin­son 143.

The Ararat coun­cil has been em­broiled in con­tro­versy and in­ter­nal di­vi­sion since mak­ing an un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt to aban­don a farm­land rate dif­fer­en­tial sys­tem ear­lier this year.

The is­sue even­tu­ally led to a Com­mis­sion of In­quiry and the State Gov­ern­ment di­rect­ing the coun­cil to re­vert back to a 2016 rat­ing plan.

One of the rec­om­men­da­tions through the in­quiry was that the coun­cil es­tab­lish a Rat­ing Strat­egy Ad­vi­sory Group.

Mr Baw­den said the coun­cil had started ad­ver­tis­ing for peo­ple to sit on the new ad­vi­sory group.

“We’re call­ing on peo­ple with an in­ter­est who might be will­ing to com­mit them­selves to a few months,” he said.

“The hope is that when the coun­cil looks at its bud­get in May, there will be well de­vel­oped ideas in place.

“Hope­fully the coun­cil will then have some com­fort in be­ing able to adopt a strat­egy.”

The group will meet reg­u­larly for six months and have sup­port from a rates ex­pert, an in­de­pen­dent chair, Mr Baw­den and mu­nic­i­pal mon­i­tor Janet Dore.

The coun­cil hopes a ‘cit­i­zens jury’ ac­tiv­ity to sup­port the group will test ideas.

Peo­ple can ap­ply to join the com­mit­tee by call­ing cor­po­rate sup­port man­ager Alis­tair Rowe on 5355 0203 or email­ing [email protected]

They can also down­load an in­for­ma­tion kit and ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est form from web­site www. ararat.vic.gov.au.

• For more on the meet­ing, see page 12

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