City Council in denial John So avoids public review

A case of a plague on both your houses.

The Herald Sun has reported on the growing unrest amongst Melbourne’s residents which comes as no surprise. BUT…

There is more to say about this issue and so little time. The fact is the City Council has only itself to blame and could have and should have done much more.

There was nothing stopping the City Councillors from calling on the State Government to subject the Council to a proper review. We have on many occasions raised this issue. It is not necessary to have John So blessing and the State Government should have and could have acted independently from the Council.

The fact that the City Council is not subjected to a regular review is an indictment against teh State Governments and a blot on Richard Wynne’s leadership. Richard more the anyone knows Melbourne ad the issues involved. Instead of addressing these issues the State government opted for a head in the sand turn a blind eye approach.

The Councillors suppoorting the review should also share some of the blame. They had three years in which to raise these issues, they choose not to, leaving it to teh last minute and allowing John So to scuttle ay hope for a meaningful review.

The Council could have also opened up0 the committee structure and provided more local input and expertise. The Council has failed in all respects to deliver much needed reform, they must share responsibility equally with John So who continues to pander to the popular at the expense of responsible good governance.

Residents put city council on notice

Ian Royall, Herald Sun, March 28, 2008 12:00am

AN alliance of 10 city residents’ groups has fired the first salvo in what it calls the battle for democracy in Melbourne.

The Coalition of Residents Associations has described the voting system for the Melbourne City Council as dysfunctional and undemocratic.

The group wants Local Government Minister Richard Wynne, who was mayor between 1990 and 1991, to intervene.

The push comes after the latest move for an electoral review was defeated by Lord Mayor John So Melbourne Living team at council on Tuesday.

The alliance wants:

POSTAL voting scrapped in favour of attendance voting;

REINTRODUCTION of the wards system;

REVIEW of the popular vote to elect the mayor. It claims the current method favours the richest candidate;

REVIEW of provisions allowing company directors and landlords to vote;

ALL candidates to have been on the electoral roll for at least two years before the election.

Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said Melbourne was exempt from periodic reviews that applied to all other councils in Victoria.

“Melbourne could go for 50 years without a review under the current legislation.”

Cr Fiona Snedden said the city needed a return to one vote one value principles.

She called on the lord mayor to act.

Cr So said he had had fruitful talks with the residents’ groups.

“But six months before the election is not the appropriate time for a review,” Cr So said.

Melbourne is growing by more than 9000 people because of the boundary changes that rope Docklands, North Melbourne and Kensington into the municipality.

The lord mayor said he had worked with the government over the boundary changes and was confident the current system was effective.

Mr Wynne’s spokesman, Dan Ward, said: “The Government does not intend to change the council structure or the voting processes.”

CORA member Jackie Watts said residents hoped transparency could be restored at Town Hall.

Mr Chamberlin said the case for a review was overwhelming.

“There is a lack of transparency and a lack of democracy,” he said.