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Ward and Representation Review Outcomes

Published on Thursday, 9 March 2023 at 2:25:56 PM

In July 2022, the Hon John Carey MLA, Minister for Local Government, advised of the next steps in the reform process including the requirements for local governments to conduct a Ward and Representation Review, and to reduce the number of elected members based on population. In response, the Shire of Merredin commenced a review in December 2022. As part of this, a Discussion Paper was released to the public for a consultation period of seven weeks, in which community input was sought regarding the preferred number of elected members and communities of interest, while comments regarding ward systems were also invited.

Representation: Of the 14 submissions received, the preference for the number of Councillors was 7, which was supported by 86% of respondents. A large portion of the comments indicated that 5 elected members would not be enough to represent the diversity within the Shire, while also posing too high a workload on individuals due to the requirement for committee representation, as well as meeting and briefing attendance.

Community of Interest: Four people indicated that they thought the Shire had communities of interest. Two responses spoke of senior citizens, a third mentioned satellite towns, with the fourth respondent not providing a comment. The Discussion Paper also noted that the Shire considered if there was a way for Councillor representation to include at least 1 of the anticipated 7 Councillor positions to be held for traditional owners within the area, but no legally appropriate instrument was found to enable this to occur.

Wards: Half of the respondents to the survey said that they would be supportive of a ward system with comments indicating that the outlying farming communities within the Shire would be able to be represented more appropriately if there were wards in place. Despite the interest from the community, the Reform does not allow for Band 3 local governments to have a ward structure, and as such the Shire were unable to consider and further investigate this as a feasible option.

On consideration of the submissions received during the consultation period, Council endorsed the number of elected members be reduced from 9 to 7, while also maintaining a no ward structure. The Shire has since submitted a report to the Local Government Advisory Board detailing the findings from the review and offering a recommendation for consideration. Should this recommendation be accepted by the Minister, the reduction in councillors will be implemented over the next 2 election cycles in 2023 and 2025. 


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