Two-year term has merit

By Shepparton News

Putting in place two-year mayoral terms is absolutely an idea worth considering for Greater Shepparton City Council and councillors.

The current system sees the mayor and deputy mayor roles re-elected on a year-by-year basis from the nine sitting councillors.

In theory this means the mayor could change from one year to the next.

In practice, this has not been the case in Greater Shepparton if recent history is any indicator; the past few city mayors up until last year had all served multiple-year terms.

This indicates that even if it is not a formally endorsed term, that councillors see the advantages in ensuring a mayor serves beyond a single-year term.

While this may point towards no formal change being necessary, there are also a few solid reasons for two-year terms to be embraced.

For one, there is destined to be a learning curve for new mayors, irrespective of their level of experience in local government or politics.

By switching mayors from year to year, in theory this could mean portions of time taken up by new mayors learning the ropes.

Furthermore, as each November rolls around, also looms the prospect of potential mayors in waiting crunching the numbers, and incumbents worrying about whether they can secure enough support to remain as mayor.

Again, recent history hasn’t proved that mayors change year-on-year.

But conversations and rallying support leading up to November could clearly pose a distraction.

Furthermore, with the role of local government and councillors changing to one involving more advocacy and lobbying, longer terms for mayors can ensure more continuity in conversations with Spring St, Canberra and possibly even further afield.

Former mayors have in the past said it takes some time to ‘‘get your head around the role’’ in throwing support behind a proposal for two-year minimum terms to be considered, and argued that if the position continued to change hands every 12 months, council could effectively undergo ‘‘a period of building bridges again’’ each year.

While not much is wrong with the status quo in practice, surely the suggestion has merit and should be considered.