Local Government Reform
UPDATE 13 July 2020:
This article was published 8 July. Since then, more information has become available. According to an update by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) on 9 July 2020, City of Boroondara "will retain its current single-councillor ward structure, with an increase to the number of councillors, at the next general council election in October 2020". Therefore, City of Boroondara will increase from 10 to 11 wards with one councillor per ward. The 15 councils that were under VEC representation review will maintain their current ward structure. However, two of these councils including City of Boroondara will maintain their single-councillor ward system but will increase in the number of councillors (and therefore wards) for council election in October 2020.
In April 2020, the new Local Government Act 2020 (the Act) came into effect. According to the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), this Act is "the most ambitious reform to the local government sector in over 30 years" designed to "improve local government democracy, accountability and service delivery for all Victorians".
In February 2019, VEC commenced a representation review of City of Boroondara as required by the former Local Government Act 1989. The review looked at the number of councillors and electoral structure of the council and was open to feedback from local council and the community. In June 2019, the final report of the review by the VEC was submitted to the Minister of Local Government for approval. The recommendation was that the City of Boroondara consist of 11 councillors elected from four wards with three three-councillor wards and one two-councillor ward. This was to replace the current 10 councillors, 10 ward structure with one councillor per ward.
However, the introduction of the new Local Government Act 2020 ceased VEC's local council representation review program. The 15 councils that were under review, including Boroondara, will maintain their current ward structure for the upcoming election. According to the Act, local government elections are held every four years on the fourth Saturday of October. For the 2020 local government elections across Victoria on 24 October, 10 other councils will have their electoral structures changed, including eight councils changing to single member wards as well as two rural councils removing their ward subdivisions to become one ward with numerous councillors.
Following the local council elections this year, an independent local government electoral representation advisory panel which includes VEC, local communities, and other members appointed by the Minister will review council electoral structures and recommend to the Minister changes to these structures ahead of the 2024 council elections.
The Act requires that all council voting now be uniformly conducted state-wide. This year all local government elections in Victoria will be conducted via postal vote to ensure everyone's safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting ballot packs will be posted to voters 6-8 October 2020. Voting is compulsory and votes must be posted by 6pm, 23 October 2020 to ensure they are received in time for counting.
Council candidate nominations close 12 noon, 22 September 2020. Candidates will be asked to provide a personal statement and photograph to be included on the VEC website and in the postal ballot pack. More information regarding the upcoming local council elections is available at vec.vic.gov.au