Letter: Former Boorowa, Harden shires need to keep identity

Ward system for Hilltops Council

I would like to discuss the development of wards in the Hilltops region.

Wards were introduced in some councils during the local government elections of 2017. Dubbo Regional Council was one of these. They lobbied the NSW Government to change the Local Government Act.

The following has been taken from the Local Government NSW Debate Proposal for a new ward system:

"In 2018 the member Councils of Local Government NSW have supported electoral reform which, if implemented, would ensure democratic representation from smaller partners in merged Council areas".

"The adopted resolution states:

That Local Government NSW lobby the state government to work with forcibly merged rural and regional councils to develop a model that would allow:

All merged councils regardless of their electoral models should ensure this process goes ahead. The model should allow for democratic representation from the smaller merged council partners based on their population, as part of the new council area".

Dubbo Regional Council have written a letter requesting that consideration be given to the feasibility and appropriateness of amending the Local Government Act to allow a process for the creation of two wards for Dubbo Regional Council, one being the former Wellington Council area, electing two councillors, and the other being the former Dubbo City Council area electing eight councillors.

Why then cannot Hilltops Council do the same with the former Young Shire, the former Harden Shire and the former Boorowa Shire? The wards could be made up of the old shires' boundaries.

The two smaller merged shires need to keep their identity. Whomever represents these two smaller entities knows the people and understands their needs.

We are talking about three different communities, two are rural based communities and one is a much larger town with industry, and their needs are quite different.

Based on the present system, the people of the Young community, for instance, do not know the candidates who might stand up to represent the Boorowa or Harden area, nor do they understand their issues and would not vote for those concerned. For this reason alone, a ward system would be a much fairer way of representing all those in the Hilltops Council.

On a per capita basis it could be divided into three wards with maybe one or two councillors for Harden and Boorowa districts and the rest from the Young area.

It would be a very well received outcome for all our constituents, if this proposal was adopted. There are a lot of very disillusioned voters out there and we need to have an open discussion about it.

Margaret Kelly