REFORMS to improve council transparency will be rolled out before rate-payers elect the next round of councillors in Cardinia shire and state-wide.
Controversially, business and home owners who don’t live in the municipality may also be stripped of their right to vote in future elections as part of the State Government focus to clean up Victorian councils.
This year, more information about candidates seeking election will be made public to voters.
For those looking to be re-elected, their attendance record at meetings will be up for public scrutiny.
The changes are part of the State Government’s move to ‘lift standards’ of councillors across Victoria.
They follow on from mandatory code of conduct agreements Cardinia Shire and other Victorian councillors were made to sign earlier this year.
It set out a number of legally binding codes requiring councillors to act with integrity and honesty, exercise impartiality, separate personal and professional conflicts, avoid making misleading statements or using public resources for personal gain.
Additionally, a ‘municipal monitor’ was appointed to oversee Casey council which was accused of making too many decisions in secret in early July.
The only councillor who is not due to stand for re-election in Cardinia shire on Saturday 22 October is George Blenkhorn, 76.
Councillor attendances at council and town planning committing meetings 2015-16.
If attendance rates were anything to vote on, Cr David Young would get full marks having attended every meeting.
His record is closely followed by Cr Collin Ross and Leticia Wilmot who’ve attended all but one.
Cr Kate Lempriere attended the fewest meetings in the financial year. Records show she missed a third of the monthly council meetings.
Mayor Jodie Owen was also at the bottom end of the scale, but was noted as having taken off time for a private overseas holiday as well as taking off time to recover from surgery.
As for this council election, anyone can put themselves up for nomination.
Council’s Governance Manager Doug Evans said the only catch is that nominees must live in the shire to be eligible.
“They do not need to be endorsed and there is no limit to the number of candidates,” he said.
Controversially, the State Government may strip municipal stakeholders of their right to vote in council elections in future.
Rental property owners and business owners who do not live in Cardinia shire are proposed to be robbed of their voting rights as part of the State Government’s review of the Local Government Act 1989.
Commercial and industrial properties contributed 8 per cent of the shire’s overall takings in the 2015-16 budget.
They paid $4.5 million of the $61.9 million raised in rates.
The council was unable to provide information about how many homes in Cardinia Shire were occupied by renters.
Shadow Minister for Planning David Davis described the proposal as “sinister”.
“Local businesses are directly impacted by the decisions of local government. Businesses should have a right to contribute to what happens in their local communities,” he said.
Parties that are peeved with the proposal have launched a site in protest insisting there be no taxation without representation at the local government level.
Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams said the proposal reacts to concerns about the integrity of council elections.
Nominations for the Cardinia Shire Council election will open on Thursday 15 September and close at noon on Tuesday 20 September.
The election will be a postal vote.
Anyone interested in standing for council election is invited to attend briefing sessions held in August and September, details and dates are at www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/election.