Council to remain un-subdivided

By Yarrawonga Chronicle

Yarrawonga based Councilor Peter Mansfield has expressed his disappointment in the Victorian Government decision for Moira Shire to remain un-subdivided (no wards) with nine councillors leading up to the 2020 Local Government elections.

Despite a review and independent panel deciding Moira Shire should be subdivided, Yarrawonga will not have its own ward of three elected councilors for the next two council elections. 

“I’m very disappointed in the decision after they appointed an independent panel and have now ignored the advice given,” Cr Mansfield said. 

“The people of Yarrawonga have to get good candidates up.

“A lot of people made submissions for a sub-divided shire and it is disappointing after the independent panel listened to this that the decision has fallen the way it has.

“It will be this way for the next two elections meaning there will be no change for eight years.” 

The un-subdivided shire is a turnaround of the Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC) recommendation to the State Government in June last year of three separate wards (East, Central and West) each comprising three councilors.

In April 2019 Moira Shire Council voted strongly in favour of retaining the status quo, with an unsubdidvided shire comprising nine councillors. 

Cr Peter Lawless was happy with the result and believed east of Cobram was likely to pick up more councilors. “I think it’s a good decision mainly for the east end,” Cr Lawless said.

“The east of Cobram is likely to pick up four or five.”

Two councillors, however, voted for a change, seeking a subdivided shire. They were Crs Kevin Bourke and Peter Mansfield. 

Mayor Libro Mustica said this latest decision reverses a recommendation by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), following a review in the second half of last year, to move Moira Shire to a three-ward council with three councillors in each ward. 

“We were concerned by the VEC recommendation as it was the opposite position to its interim report findings and seemed to have been influenced by the notion that Yarrawonga was different to the rest of the shire and needed guaranteed local councillors,” Cr Mustica said. 

Cr Mustica said during the most recent review by the VEC, the whole basis of submissions from the east of the shire was Yarrawonga needed more councillors to secure a bigger share of the shire’s budget and capital works program. 

“Under the VEC’s recommendation it would be limited to three councillors out of nine in spite of it being the fastest growing town in the shire,” he said. 

“We did some population modelling to show the VEC’s proposed boundaries would only last for one election and then need to be-redrawn as voter numbers would breach the 10% variation cap. 

“Council believed the VEC recommendation was a backward step and we are very happy the Victorian Government has listened to our concerns and made the decision to keep the status quo. 

“At the end of the day wards are just the means by which you get elected, what you bring to the council table is what really matters.”