Should the council wards be abolished?
The Daily Liberal asked all 28 candidates in the Dubbo Regional Council election questions on issues affecting the community.
These are the comments of those who responded. They have been edited.
Vicki Etheridge: As far as I am concerned, if elected, the ward system will go.
It is not a democratic system. People should be able to vote for who ever they want regardless of where they live.
John Ryan: Yes, the ward system is ridiculous and I wrote about it's inadequacies and unfairness months ago before most people realised the wards had been decreed.
A reasonable solution would be to create a Wellington ward which didn't encroach on Dubbo, as people just east of Richmond Estate or who live in Wongarbon don't consider themselves as part of that town.
Have three councillors from the Wellington ward and pro-rata that to have possibly 10 councillors from the larger Dubbo ward.
This is still seven councillors less than the combined elected representatives from the two merged council areas and the combined cost would be far less than the single unelected administrator who's been overseeing the merger.
Having 10 councillors, an even number, is almost as stupid as the ward system itself.
Josh Black: Yes. People don’t like undemocratic decisions imposed on them from Sydney and this one stinks.
Consultation with the community is needed, but a possible solution is to have wards based on the old council boundaries --- a Dubbo ward with 10 councillors, and a Wellington ward with three councillors.
Greg Matthews: Yes, they isolate Wellington as a separate identity and maintain a “them and us” attitude, which must be overcome.
Kris Stevens: There is much concern being expressed within the community as to whether or not the ward system will provide the best solution to fair representation of all residents in our local government area.
I would be happy to work with other councillors, if elected, to undertake a review of Dubbo Regional Council wards.
Greg Mohr: From my initial thought I would have said “yes”, but we haven’t had the election yet and honestly we need to see what the outcome on polling day brings before we can jump to conclusions.
If there is a substantial amount of non-valid votes, donkey votes and people just getting their names marked off then my definite answer will be “yes”.
I don’t think the NSW Electoral Commission has done a great job in selling the ward system.
I understand why the NSW Government introduced the ward system and that is so Wellington would have some representation on council.
Without the ward system then they would have no representation.
The ward system may need to be revamped in the future with just two wards being Dubbo and Wellington, which would make it easier.
Manny Portelli: Yes, but I believe there should be councillors from Wellington e.g. three councillors from Wellington and eight councillors from Dubbo
Douglas Prior: The new Dubbo Regional Council only needs two wards, Dubbo and Wellington.
Kevin Parker: Yes it has to be changed. NO Question about that. Having spent two days at pre-polling it is evident the voters do not like it at all.
Ben Shields: We should abolish the four Dubbo wards but keep Wellington’s ward.
I believe that Wellington needs dedicated councillors but Dubbo people don’t want to be restricted to four wards.
A general ward of eight should be for Dubbo and a ward of three should be for Wellington.
That makes the final number of councillors 11 – an odd number so there isn’t a five-all draw in votes.
Merrilyn Mulcahy: I do not like the ward system as it separates the region far too much.
But, to make sure that Wellington is well represented I would like to see maybe a two-ward system where Dubbo had eight councillors and Wellington had three councillors. This would work for elections. But, all elected councillors must work for the good of the entire region regardless as they [would] do now.
Jane Diffey: The introduction of the ward system has been met with differing opinions.
I believe before any decision is made on the ward system the newly-elected council should extensively consult with the community.
Dayne Gumley: It appears so.
I am yet to hear one resident who wants it.
Whether they understand it or not it's just not popular.
I also think it has limited use in our area.
Stephen Lawrence: Yes. I have spoken to many people during the campaign who are rightly frustrated at the voting choices in their ward.
I think Central ward candidates have a reasonable diversity of choice, but in North, East and South the choices are fairly limited in some ways.
If elected I will be advocating a return to a city-wide voting system as soon as possible.
I want everyone in Dubbo to be able to vote for any candidate they prefer.
Wellington will need, however, to be guaranteed councillors one way or another well into the future.
Cody Jones: Yes, the ward system doesn’t work.
Why should only people in East ward have the opportunity to vote Country Labor?
How can the best candidates across the council area be elected when some are competing against each other in the same tiny wards?
How can 10 councillors deliver a democratic system and have fair representative when previously there were 20 councillors (11 for Dubbo and 10 for Wellington).
Ana Pateman: The current ward system is not well like by residents.
I believe a good compromise is to have a Wellington ward and a Dubbo Ward, both based on the original councils’ local government areas.
Since we have a council of 10, Wellington ward could have two councillors and Dubbo ward could have eight.
This way, residents get to vote for all the candidates associated with their area.
Chris Edwards: There are two sides to this question as the ward system guarantees representation for Wellington residents.
On the other hand in the Dubbo area there are cases where a voter’s preferred candidate or candidates are not standing in the ward that the voter lives in.
The voters then do not have the opportunity to vote for the candidates of their choice but are forced to cast a vote for someone they place behind their preferences.
Jacob Perry: All council wards should be abolished in Dubbo yes.
But, a ward should still exist for Wellington and have three representatives rather than two.
The wards should stay in place for at least one to two elections maximum so we don't have a council laden with people who get over the line with 300 votes picked up from Eumungerie to South Dubbo and Wambangalang like we had with the last Dubbo City Council.
A more effective quota system should be introduced so if you don't get at least 1000 votes you don't flop over the line in 10th spot.
David Grant: I believe there should only be two wards: a West ward with eight to nine councillors and an East ward with three to four councillors.
They are: Lisa James, Tyler Przerada, Nathan Ellis, Nikki Catelotti, Shayne Stiff, Anne Jones, Mark Griggs, Mike Augee and Adam Ryan.
The ward system was introduced after the NSW Government’s forced merger of the Dubbo City Council (DCC) and the Wellington Shire Council (WSC).
The justification of the switch in both areas from a city or shire wide vote for all candidates to a ward system was the need to ensure Wellington was represented on the DRC and candidates from Wellington were not swamped by Dubbo’s bigger numbers.
Dubbo voters previously elected 11 councillors on a city-wide basis. Wellington voters elected 10 councillors on a shire-wide basis. In the 2012 local government elections the DCC had 53 Dubbo candidates and the WSC had 16 Wellington candidates for a total of 69 from both areas.
The DRC has attracted a total of 28 candidates: 22 from Dubbo and six from Wellington.