Clarke calls it quits as he takes on the design of greener pastures.

Melbourne City Councillor, Peter Clarke, has called it a day and has given notice of his intention to quit the Council having served just over one and a half terms. Peter Clarke has accepted a generous offer from his good friend and Premier of Victoria, Ted Baillieu, to head up the Urban Renewal Authority. A position that comes with twice his salary as a Councillor, his own office, secretary and plenty of opportunity for international travel. Why would you hang around a powerless and non influential City Council when you can enjoy the trappings and benefits of a plum position that has little accountability or oversight?

Clarke’s pending resignation, which takes effect in three weeks time, will cause grief for the City Council and the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). The VEC must contact all candidates within 14 days of the vacancy occurring to ascertain who is willing and able to continue be elected in a count back of the 2008 City of Melbourne Council ballot. They then have a further 14 days in which to determine the winner and results of the election.

This sounds fine and in theory should be a straight forward exercise given that all the preference votes were transcribed and recorded electronically, but it is not as straight forward as some might think. It is unclear if in fact the VEC has designed, developed and tested its software to process the count back as required under Schedule 3A of the Local Government Act .

The method of calculating the results of a count back are messy in deed.

Analysis of the provision of Schedule 3A has highlighted a number of discrepancies in the way the Count back is to be counted. With votes being redistributed at an overall higher value then should be. Some votes will be counted twice in the process of determining who is elected.

The problem lies in the drafting of the rules and the formula used to determine the transfer value of ballot papers deemed to have contributed to the quota that elected Peter Clarke back in 2008. How ever drafted the rules should be sacked and never allowed to get near the legislative drafting computer again. The main problem being the interpretation of clause 12. Another problematic clause is clause 10 (3) and the definition of “necessary”.

It will be interesting to see what changes the VEC will try and implement to facilitate an electronic count and if those changes are in fact necessary or just desirable. Of course if it can be established that the changes implemented were not necessary in order to conduct a computerised count then they cannot be adopted without causing a jurisdictional error – which could lead to possible challenges in the courts.

Preliminary Analysis indicates that there are two main contenders for the vacancy that will be created. First is Dr Jackie Watts, who was second on Peter Clarke ticket, the other possible contender is a second Green’s candidate – Rohan Leppert.

We will wait with baited breath to see just how open and transparent the recount process is and if Candidates will have the same rights to appoint scrutineers to oversee the recount process. A scrutineer can only do their job if they are given access to the detailed information records and transfers of the votes. Thankfully copies of the preference data-files were published back in 2008 so it should be possible to independently verify the results of the count back election before hand.


It depends on how much the Victorian Election Commission will charge the City of Melbourne for the recount. This is another issue that is worth watching more closely.

Given that the VEC is the only organisation that can conduct the count they can overcharge the City of Melbourne, as they did when the rate payers were slugged $200,000 to develop the counting software in the first place back in 2002.

Thanks to a poorly negotiated contract by Alison Lyons, the City of Melbourne retained no IP rights or value for its investment. It was just money transferred from the General Rate Revenue to the VEC developers pockets.

One thought on “Clarke calls it quits as he takes on the design of greener pastures.

  1. Statement by Cathy Alexander, CEO of the City of Mebourne


    Councillor Clarke resignation

    Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and City of Melbourne Chief Executive Dr Kathy Alexander have today congratulated Councillor Peter Clarke on his appointment as the Chair of the new Urban Renewal Authority (URA) board.

    Cr Clarke intends to resign from his position at the City of Melbourne and will begin work with the VicUrban board once his Council resignation has taken effect.

    Upon receipt of the resignation, Dr Alexander will notify the Local Government Minister, Jeanette Powell and also the Victorian Electoral Commission to enable the commencement of an electoral process to elect a new Councillor.

    Lord Mayor Robert Doyle congratulated Cr Clarke on the appointment and said the City of Melbourne looked forward to having a strong and productive relationship with the URA.

    “Cr Clarke has given the City of Melbourne six-and-a-half years of outstanding service. His contribution to the city, particularly in the Planning Portfolio, has been exemplary and it is therefore fitting that he is going off to head one of the most important authorities in the state,” the Lord Mayor said.

    Dr Alexander said City of Melbourne would work with Cr Clarke to ensure a smooth and timely transition with the person elected to take his position on Council.

    “On behalf of the City of Melbourne I wish him well with his new role,” Dr Alexander said.

    Cr Peter Clarke said that he has accepted the new role as Chair of the new Urban Renewal Authority board and advised the Lord Mayor and Chief Executive Officer today of his intention to resign from Council.

    “We are working through the exact date of my resignation but I would expect my replacement would be within a month,” Cr Clarke said.

    “I’d like to thank all the people of Melbourne who have elected and supported me over what has been nearly seven years and I’d like to thank City of Melbourne staff for their considered advice.

    “It has been a privilege to serve as the Chair of the Planning Committee of the city and participate in all its other forums and I look forward to serving the people of Melbourne and Victoria in my new role as Chair.”

Leave a Reply