Direct Election of Lord Mayor under review

MELBOURNE ratepayers would no longer be able to elect their lord mayor under a controversial proposal to return the power to elected city councillors.

Herald Sun

A motion will be brought before Melbourne City Council tonight on whether to ask the State Government to consider abolishing the direct election of the mayor and deputy.

Council sources say if the change were put to the State Government and enacted, it could weaken Lord Mayor Robert Doyle’s chance at another term in office.

Critics of council’s current voting system claim that candidates with a high public profile and financial support are more likely to win direct elections, and not necessarily the best candidate.

The direct election of the lord mayor by ratepayers has been in place since John So won office in 2001.

There has been no review of the system since then.

The State Government passed legislation last week for the City of Melbourne to have regular electoral representation reviews conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission.

That legislation was requested by council.

The motion before the Future Melbourne committee, meeting tonight, calls for public consultation over whether people would be required to vote in person, bringing local government elections in line with state and federal practices.

A second motion also brought by Councillor Jacqui Watts calls for the State Government to consider matters including:

ABOLITION of the direct election of the lord mayor and/or deputy lord mayor.

INCREASING requirements of election funding and disclosure provisions.

ABOLITION of deeming provisions and amendment to the company nominee provisions.

Both motions will be voted on tonight.

Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell said the electoral representation reviews gave the local community the chance to influence their council’s electoral structure.

“Local government is the level of government closest to the people and this Bill increases the opportunity for the community to have more input,” she said

UPDATE: The City Council has voted against the proposal to hold a public inquiry and review of the City of Melbourne’s electoral system. Whislt The Lord Mayor wants to prevent the public from reviewing his position this should not prevent the State Government from proceeding and providing opportunity for public review.