Victoria’s Count Back System of Shame

The City of Melbourne has concluded the count back of the 2008 Municipal Election ballot to determine who will fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Councillor Peter Clarke.

The successful candidate was Jackie Watts (Peter Clarke’s number 2 on his ticket).

Over 6,000 votes that should have been counted were excluded from the count.

Raising further concern about the system of Proportional representation used in Victoria’ municipal elections.

Whilst the result of the count back are not brought into question the method used in the count back is very much questioned..

Under the system adopted there are seven councillors elected to the Council with a quota of just under 1/8 of the total vote. The total vote divided by (the number of vacant positions plus one) minus one. Of which Peter Clarke represents one eighth.

Peter Clarke was not elected on the primary vote and relied on the distribution of preferences from other candidates. Clarke’s surplus votes were also distributed on assisting the election of other councillors who were elected later in the count.

Peter Clarke had a primary vote of 5511 votes at full value (1.000)

He received an additional 3205 votes at full value and 18 fractional value votes following the distribution of preferences from excluded candidates and other candidates surpluses. Total value 8734

The quota for election was 7415. Clarke’s surplus of 1319 which was distributed to other candidates, remaining in the count, according to the voters nominated order of preference.

Under the VEC rules the recount only took into consideration the votes that formed Clarke’s original quota, they failed to take into consideration other unused residual votes that remained on the table, effectively a full quota of votes was ignored in the recount. Votes which could have determined the outcome of the recount and the candidate who filled the casual vacancy.

By only considering Clarke’s original set of ballot papers that were used to elect him the system has double counted some votes and excluded other votes which legitimately should have been counted.

The formula that should have been used should have proportioned Clarkes original set of ballot papers so that they together equal quota (Quota divided candidates total value of votes) times the value of the each vote.

This value should have then been added to any remaining residual value that had not been used at the conclusion of the original count brining the count to its final conclusion. In a full preferential ballot this should equal two quotas minus one. (Taking into consideration and exhausted votes that failed to express a valid preference for any continuing candidate.

All unelected Candidates should have been reactivated and include in the recount and value of the votes outstanding redistributed according to the voters nominated preference until a candidate has reach the original quota value.

This is not the process that the VEC or the legislation applied. They only considered the ballot papers that made up Clarkes original quota votes that when combined with the other residual votes could have produced a different result. But excluding the residual votes from the count these voters have been denied equal representation.

By Way of a theoretical analogy

The ALP number 3 Senate Candidate Jacinta Collins may have been elected on the back of preferences from the DLP who preferenced Jacinta Collins then preferenced Family First or some other candidate ahead of the ALP’s other candidates. The DLP vote when they were excluded from the Count continued on to elect Collins in the original election.

If Collins position subsequently became vacant and count back was used to fill the casual vacancy, under the VEC rules the ALP’s number 4 candidate would be elected but not on merit or on in accordance with the voters chosen candidate. The DLP vote would have been transferred to the Family First Candidate not the ALP and this vote could have resulted in Family First reaching quota before the ALP number 4 candidate. In a fair accurate system Family first’s Steve Fielding should be elected on the count back.

The City of Melbourne count back has highlighted some serious flawed in the system of proportional representation that has been adopted.

Flaws that were introduced by poor legislation drafting and designed to facilitate an outdated manual counting process. With the use of computer based technology it is possible and highly desirable that the system is reviewed and the rules amended to reflect more accurately the voters choice. Our system of Proportional representation and the count back rules, as they currently exist, is not really proportional but semi proportional at best.

If we cannot fix the system so that it accurately reflects the voters choice then we might as well do away with preferential voting which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to count and adopt a similar cheaper party list system as is used in Europe.

If we are going to retain the preferential voting and the associated expense of counting it then it should be accurate.

Victoria’s Count Back System of Shame

The City of Melbourne has concluded the count back of the 2008 Municipal Election ballot to determine who will fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Councillor Peter Clarke.

The successful candidate was Jackie Watts (Peter Clarke’s number 2 on his ticket).

Over 6,000 votes that should have been counted were excluded from the count.

Raising further concern about the system of Proportional representation used in Victoria’ municipal elections.

Whilst the result of the count back are not brought into question the method used in the count back is very much questioned..

Under the system adopted there are seven councillors elected to the Council with a quota of just under 1/8 of the total vote. The total vote divided by (the number of vacant positions plus one) minus one. Of which Peter Clarke represents one eighth.

Peter Clarke was not elected on the primary vote and relied on the distribution of preferences from other candidates. Clarke’s surplus votes were also distributed on assisting the election of other councillors who were elected later in the count.

Peter Clarke had a primary vote of 5511 votes at full value (1.000)

He received an additional 3205 votes at full value and 18 fractional value votes following the distribution of preferences from excluded candidates and other candidates surpluses. Total value 8734

The quota for election was 7415. Clarke’s surplus of 1319 which was distributed to other candidates, remaining in the count, according to the voters nominated order of preference.

Under the VEC rules the recount only took into consideration the votes that formed Clarke’s original quota, they failed to take into consideration other unused residual votes that remained on the table, effectively a full quota of votes was ignored in the recount. Votes which could have determined the outcome of the recount and the candidate who filled the casual vacancy.

By only considering Clarke’s original set of ballot papers that were used to elect him the system has double counted some votes and excluded other votes which legitimately should have been counted.

The formula that should have been used should have proportioned Clarkes original set of ballot papers so that they together equal quota (Quota divided candidates total value of votes) times the value of the each vote.

This value should have then been added to any remaining residual value that had not been used at the conclusion of the original count brining the count to its final conclusion. In a full preferential ballot this should equal two quotas minus one. (Taking into consideration and exhausted votes that failed to express a valid preference for any continuing candidate.

All unelected Candidates should have been reactivated and include in the recount and value of the votes outstanding redistributed according to the voters nominated preference until a candidate has reach the original quota value.

This is not the process that the VEC or the legislation applied. They only considered the ballot papers that made up Clarkes original quota votes that when combined with the other residual votes could have produced a different result. But excluding the residual votes from the count these voters have been denied equal representation.

By Way of a theoretical analogy

The ALP number 3 Senate Candidate Jacinta Collins may have been elected on the back of preferences from the DLP who preferenced Jacinta Collins then preferenced Family First or some other candidate ahead of the ALP’s other candidates. The DLP vote when they were excluded from the Count continued on to elect Collins in the original election.

If Collins position subsequently became vacant and count back was used to fill the casual vacancy, under the VEC rules the ALP’s number 4 candidate would be elected but not on merit or on in accordance with the voters chosen candidate. The DLP vote would have been transferred to the Family First Candidate not the ALP and this vote could have resulted in Family First reaching quota before the ALP number 4 candidate. In a fair accurate system Family first’s Steve Fielding should be elected on the count back.

The City of Melbourne count back has highlighted some serious flawed in the system of proportional representation that has been adopted.

Flaws that were introduced by poor legislation drafting and designed to facilitate an outdated manual counting process. With the use of computer based technology it is possible and highly desirable that the system is reviewed and the rules amended to reflect more accurately the voters choice. Our system of Proportional representation and the count back rules, as they currently exist, is not really proportional but semi proportional at best.

If we cannot fix the system so that it accurately reflects the voters choice then we might as well do away with preferential voting which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to count and adopt a similar cheaper party list system as is used in Europe.

If we are going to retain the preferential voting and the associated expense of counting it then it should be accurate.

Victoria’s Count Back System of Shame

The City of Melbourne has concluded the count back of the 2008 Municipal Election ballot to determine who will fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Councillor Peter Clarke.

The successful candidate was Jackie Watts (Peter Clarke’s number 2 on his ticket).

Over 6,000 votes that should have been counted were excluded from the count.

Raising further concern about the system of Proportional representation used in Victoria’ municipal elections.

Whilst the result of the count back are not brought into question the method used in the count back is very much questioned..

Under the system adopted there are seven councillors elected to the Council with a quota of just under 1/8 of the total vote. The total vote divided by (the number of vacant positions plus one) minus one. Of which Peter Clarke represents one eighth.

Peter Clarke was not elected on the primary vote and relied on the distribution of preferences from other candidates. Clarke’s surplus votes were also distributed on assisting the election of other councillors who were elected later in the count.

Peter Clarke had a primary vote of 5511 votes at full value (1.000)

He received an additional 3205 votes at full value and 18 fractional value votes following the distribution of preferences from excluded candidates and other candidates surpluses. Total value 8734

The quota for election was 7415. Clarke’s surplus of 1319 which was distributed to other candidates, remaining in the count, according to the voters nominated order of preference.

Under the VEC rules the recount only took into consideration the votes that formed Clarke’s original quota, they failed to take into consideration other unused residual votes that remained on the table, effectively a full quota of votes was ignored in the recount. Votes which could have determined the outcome of the recount and the candidate who filled the casual vacancy.

By only considering Clarke’s original set of ballot papers that were used to elect him the system has double counted some votes and excluded other votes which legitimately should have been counted.

The formula that should have been used should have proportioned Clarkes original set of ballot papers so that they together equal quota (Quota divided candidates total value of votes) times the value of the each vote.

This value should have then been added to any remaining residual value that had not been used at the conclusion of the original count brining the count to its final conclusion. In a full preferential ballot this should equal two quotas minus one. (Taking into consideration and exhausted votes that failed to express a valid preference for any continuing candidate.

All unelected Candidates should have been reactivated and include in the recount and value of the votes outstanding redistributed according to the voters nominated preference until a candidate has reach the original quota value.

This is not the process that the VEC or the legislation applied. They only considered the ballot papers that made up Clarkes original quota votes that when combined with the other residual votes could have produced a different result. But excluding the residual votes from the count these voters have been denied equal representation.

By Way of a theoretical analogy

The ALP number 3 Senate Candidate Jacinta Collins may have been elected on the back of preferences from the DLP who preferenced Jacinta Collins then preferenced Family First or some other candidate ahead of the ALP’s other candidates. The DLP vote when they were excluded from the Count continued on to elect Collins in the original election.

If Collins position subsequently became vacant and count back was used to fill the casual vacancy, under the VEC rules the ALP’s number 4 candidate would be elected but not on merit or on in accordance with the voters chosen candidate. The DLP vote would have been transferred to the Family First Candidate not the ALP and this vote could have resulted in Family First reaching quota before the ALP number 4 candidate. In a fair accurate system Family first’s Steve Fielding should be elected on the count back.

The City of Melbourne count back has highlighted some serious flawed in the system of proportional representation that has been adopted.

Flaws that were introduced by poor legislation drafting and designed to facilitate an outdated manual counting process. With the use of computer based technology it is possible and highly desirable that the system is reviewed and the rules amended to reflect more accurately the voters choice. Our system of Proportional representation and the count back rules, as they currently exist, is not really proportional but semi proportional at best.

If we cannot fix the system so that it accurately reflects the voters choice then we might as well do away with preferential voting which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to count and adopt a similar cheaper party list system as is used in Europe.

If we are going to retain the preferential voting and the associated expense of counting it then it should be accurate.

Beyond the Law Singer again in the media spotlight this time over planning breaches

Melbourne City Council’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Garry Singer, is again in the media spotlight following revelations that he and a company he works for breached local planning laws and commenced building without a planning permit.

Herald-Sun Friday Feb 17, 2006

More and more information comes to light that indicates that John So had made a serious error of judgment when he selected Gary Singer to be his no 2. Most people close to the City Council are of the belief that Gary Singer should resign and Catherine NG take over as John So’s Deputy. The problem is if Singer does resign, under the rules established by the State Government, the Melbourne City Council would have to hold a City wide by-election to replace Singer if he stood down. Costing the City 100’s of thousands of dollars. Garry Singer effectively is holding the City Council to ransom.

Clearly something has to be done. The State Government against all advice opted for a direct election system but in doing so failed to properly consider issues related to filling any casual vacancies. Under the current rules if Singer resigns within 6 months of the next election the City Council can elect a a fellow councilor to fill any vacancy in the Deputy Lord Mayor’s position but if the position is made vacant before 6 month then a by-elections has to be held.

The system of filling casual vacancies need review and changing. It is incumbent on Local Government Minister, Candy Broad, to change the City of Melbourne Act to permit the City Council to appoint a replacement. Failing that the Direct election system should be abandoned.

The Herald Sun reports “Cr Singer last year pleaded guilty to financial misconduct as a solicitor.
He admitted to withholding 116 cheques totaling $154,000, some for up to five years. The money should have been paid to barrister and professional witnesses. The Legal Profession Tribunal fined Cr Singer $10,000 with $8000 costs.

In 1999, he was found guilty of professional misconduct for “grossly excessive” overcharging of a client involved in a personal injuries case.

The latest revelations raise more doubts as to his suitability to remain in office.

Beyond the Law Singer again in the media spotlight this time over planning breaches

Melbourne City Council’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Garry Singer, is again in the media spotlight following revelations that he and a company he works for breached local planning laws and commenced building without a planning permit.

Herald-Sun Friday Feb 17, 2006

More and more information comes to light that indicates that John So had made a serious error of judgment when he selected Gary Singer to be his no 2. Most people close to the City Council are of the belief that Gary Singer should resign and Catherine NG take over as John So’s Deputy. The problem is if Singer does resign, under the rules established by the State Government, the Melbourne City Council would have to hold a City wide by-election to replace Singer if he stood down. Costing the City 100’s of thousands of dollars. Garry Singer effectively is holding the City Council to ransom.

Clearly something has to be done. The State Government against all advice opted for a direct election system but in doing so failed to properly consider issues related to filling any casual vacancies. Under the current rules if Singer resigns within 6 months of the next election the City Council can elect a a fellow councilor to fill any vacancy in the Deputy Lord Mayor’s position but if the position is made vacant before 6 month then a by-elections has to be held.

The system of filling casual vacancies need review and changing. It is incumbent on Local Government Minister, Candy Broad, to change the City of Melbourne Act to permit the City Council to appoint a replacement. Failing that the Direct election system should be abandoned.

The Herald Sun reports “Cr Singer last year pleaded guilty to financial misconduct as a solicitor.
He admitted to withholding 116 cheques totaling $154,000, some for up to five years. The money should have been paid to barrister and professional witnesses. The Legal Profession Tribunal fined Cr Singer $10,000 with $8000 costs.

In 1999, he was found guilty of professional misconduct for “grossly excessive” overcharging of a client involved in a personal injuries case.

The latest revelations raise more doubts as to his suitability to remain in office.

Beyond the Law Singer again in the media spotlight this time over planning breaches

Melbourne City Council’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Garry Singer, is again in the media spotlight following revelations that he and a company he works for breached local planning laws and commenced building without a planning permit.

Herald-Sun Friday Feb 17, 2006

More and more information comes to light that indicates that John So had made a serious error of judgment when he selected Gary Singer to be his no 2. Most people close to the City Council are of the belief that Gary Singer should resign and Catherine NG take over as John So’s Deputy. The problem is if Singer does resign, under the rules established by the State Government, the Melbourne City Council would have to hold a City wide by-election to replace Singer if he stood down. Costing the City 100’s of thousands of dollars. Garry Singer effectively is holding the City Council to ransom.

Clearly something has to be done. The State Government against all advice opted for a direct election system but in doing so failed to properly consider issues related to filling any casual vacancies. Under the current rules if Singer resigns within 6 months of the next election the City Council can elect a a fellow councilor to fill any vacancy in the Deputy Lord Mayor’s position but if the position is made vacant before 6 month then a by-elections has to be held.

The system of filling casual vacancies need review and changing. It is incumbent on Local Government Minister, Candy Broad, to change the City of Melbourne Act to permit the City Council to appoint a replacement. Failing that the Direct election system should be abandoned.

The Herald Sun reports “Cr Singer last year pleaded guilty to financial misconduct as a solicitor.
He admitted to withholding 116 cheques totaling $154,000, some for up to five years. The money should have been paid to barrister and professional witnesses. The Legal Profession Tribunal fined Cr Singer $10,000 with $8000 costs.

In 1999, he was found guilty of professional misconduct for “grossly excessive” overcharging of a client involved in a personal injuries case.

The latest revelations raise more doubts as to his suitability to remain in office.

So what’s upCatherine Ng and John So in disagreement with support growing for Catherine Ng to take over the role of Deputy

Information from our elves in the Council’s Governance department tell us that there is a serious split in the So team with Catherine Ng of the view that Garry Singer should go and that she should become John So‘s Deputy Lord Mayor. Catherine Ng is so furious it’s reported that she is hardly speaking to the Lord Mayor at present.

Whilst we have some reservations about Catherine Ng, her policies and actions, we recognise that Catherine Ng would make a better Deputy then Garry Singer. Catherine Ng was elected as John So‘s Lead Candidate on his teams ticket.

Garry Singer who was recently found guilty of professional negligence and fined by the Law Institute continues to bring the City Council into disrepute with an overal loss of confidence in his role as Deputy Lord Mayor. He has failed to live up to expectations and is often criticized by the other Councillors of not pulling his weight around the chamber. We understand if a vote of confidence was put before the City Council, Garry Singer would lose the vote.

The problem is if Gary Singer resigns the City of Melbourne will be required to hold a by-election to replace him, costing the City Council up to One Million Dollars.

This is a serious problem with the direct election model – one that the State Government failed to address when drafting its legislation.

If you have a dud elected for Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor, and for what ever reason Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee resign, under the current legislation the City Council has to hold a City wide election at great expense to the ratepayers.

We believe this is the reason why John So (as reported in the Herald-Sun) wants to restructure Councillor portfolio’s so that Garry Singer will effectively become Deputy In Name Only (or DINO as he has now become to be known) Other Councillors are not so sure or supportive of John’s idea.


Under John So‘s plan Cr Singer will have no responsibilities other then what he wants to do so long as he does not cause further trouble he can continue working the cocktail circuit and cashing on the City Council’s invitations to Arts, Sporting events and the occasional delegation and trip interstate and overseas.

Clearly the Government must do something. Victoria’s Local Government Minister,Candy Broad, must review the City of Melbourne Act and change it so that any vacancy in the Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor’s positions can be filled by a vote of the remaining elected Councillors with a count-back of the original vote recorded at the General Election to determine who should fill the vacant Councillor position. This was the procedure before but now only applies to vacancies that occure within the last six months of the Council’s term of office.

So what’s upCatherine Ng and John So in disagreement with support growing for Catherine Ng to take over the role of Deputy

Information from our elves in the Council’s Governance department tell us that there is a serious split in the So team with Catherine Ng of the view that Garry Singer should go and that she should become John So‘s Deputy Lord Mayor. Catherine Ng is so furious it’s reported that she is hardly speaking to the Lord Mayor at present.

Whilst we have some reservations about Catherine Ng, her policies and actions, we recognise that Catherine Ng would make a better Deputy then Garry Singer. Catherine Ng was elected as John So‘s Lead Candidate on his teams ticket.

Garry Singer who was recently found guilty of professional negligence and fined by the Law Institute continues to bring the City Council into disrepute with an overal loss of confidence in his role as Deputy Lord Mayor. He has failed to live up to expectations and is often criticized by the other Councillors of not pulling his weight around the chamber. We understand if a vote of confidence was put before the City Council, Garry Singer would lose the vote.

The problem is if Gary Singer resigns the City of Melbourne will be required to hold a by-election to replace him, costing the City Council up to One Million Dollars.

This is a serious problem with the direct election model – one that the State Government failed to address when drafting its legislation.

If you have a dud elected for Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor, and for what ever reason Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee resign, under the current legislation the City Council has to hold a City wide election at great expense to the ratepayers.

We believe this is the reason why John So (as reported in the Herald-Sun) wants to restructure Councillor portfolio’s so that Garry Singer will effectively become Deputy In Name Only (or DINO as he has now become to be known) Other Councillors are not so sure or supportive of John’s idea.


Under John So‘s plan Cr Singer will have no responsibilities other then what he wants to do so long as he does not cause further trouble he can continue working the cocktail circuit and cashing on the City Council’s invitations to Arts, Sporting events and the occasional delegation and trip interstate and overseas.

Clearly the Government must do something. Victoria’s Local Government Minister,Candy Broad, must review the City of Melbourne Act and change it so that any vacancy in the Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor’s positions can be filled by a vote of the remaining elected Councillors with a count-back of the original vote recorded at the General Election to determine who should fill the vacant Councillor position. This was the procedure before but now only applies to vacancies that occure within the last six months of the Council’s term of office.

So what’s upCatherine Ng and John So in disagreement with support growing for Catherine Ng to take over the role of Deputy

Information from our elves in the Council’s Governance department tell us that there is a serious split in the So team with Catherine Ng of the view that Garry Singer should go and that she should become John So‘s Deputy Lord Mayor. Catherine Ng is so furious it’s reported that she is hardly speaking to the Lord Mayor at present.

Whilst we have some reservations about Catherine Ng, her policies and actions, we recognise that Catherine Ng would make a better Deputy then Garry Singer. Catherine Ng was elected as John So‘s Lead Candidate on his teams ticket.

Garry Singer who was recently found guilty of professional negligence and fined by the Law Institute continues to bring the City Council into disrepute with an overal loss of confidence in his role as Deputy Lord Mayor. He has failed to live up to expectations and is often criticized by the other Councillors of not pulling his weight around the chamber. We understand if a vote of confidence was put before the City Council, Garry Singer would lose the vote.

The problem is if Gary Singer resigns the City of Melbourne will be required to hold a by-election to replace him, costing the City Council up to One Million Dollars.

This is a serious problem with the direct election model – one that the State Government failed to address when drafting its legislation.

If you have a dud elected for Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor, and for what ever reason Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee resign, under the current legislation the City Council has to hold a City wide election at great expense to the ratepayers.

We believe this is the reason why John So (as reported in the Herald-Sun) wants to restructure Councillor portfolio’s so that Garry Singer will effectively become Deputy In Name Only (or DINO as he has now become to be known) Other Councillors are not so sure or supportive of John’s idea.


Under John So‘s plan Cr Singer will have no responsibilities other then what he wants to do so long as he does not cause further trouble he can continue working the cocktail circuit and cashing on the City Council’s invitations to Arts, Sporting events and the occasional delegation and trip interstate and overseas.

Clearly the Government must do something. Victoria’s Local Government Minister,Candy Broad, must review the City of Melbourne Act and change it so that any vacancy in the Lord Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor’s positions can be filled by a vote of the remaining elected Councillors with a count-back of the original vote recorded at the General Election to determine who should fill the vacant Councillor position. This was the procedure before but now only applies to vacancies that occure within the last six months of the Council’s term of office.