Local Government Elections - Constitutional Referendum - Change of Questions

Following advice and consultation with the NSW Electoral Commission legal team the referendum questions have been reduced to two ‘questions”. The Yes and No case remains unchanged. Council apologises for any confusion.

Referendum Question One

Dungog Shire Council currently has nine (9) Councillors with the Mayor elected by the Councillors.
Do you approve of the popular election of the Mayor with seven (7) Councillors including the Mayor?
 

Referendum Question Two

Do you approve of the abolition of wards?

 

T h e   “ Y E S ”   C a s e T h e   “ N O ”   C a s e
Independent analysis of the “Yes” and “No” case for a popularly elected Mayor was previously conducted in 2012 by the Western Research Institute at Charles Sturt University. A summary of those findings is provided below:

The Mayor should be decided directly by the voters
because it would:
  • Give  predictability  to  the  Council’s  leadership  and stability to the office for four years
  • The Mayor would be able to provide leadership, adhere to agreed strategic directions and influence the long term planning and policy setting
  • Give residents an opportunity to consider Mayoral candidates’ policies and vote accordingly
  • Avoid the possibility of a Mayor being elected “out of a hat” in the event of two or more Councillors receiving equal votes.
The  elected  Council  should  choose  the  leader  of  the Council because:
  • Direct election could benefit financially well-resourced candidates
  • Councillors should have the option of assessing the Mayor every two years to be able to change the person if he/she  doesn't  perform  to  expectation  or if conflict develops
  • If the Mayor resigned or vacated the position for any reason, the community will have to meet the  high costs of the bi-election to choose a new Mayor
  • Voters may choose a Mayor based on their popularity and not on their ability.
  • Dungog currently  has an elected representative for approximately every 1000 population. The average regional community has approximately an elected representative for every 7500 population. A yes vote would result in a change to approximately one elected representative for every 1200 people.
  • Reduction in number of Councillors may lead to greater cohesion and improved decision making.
  • Reduction in number  of  Councillors  will  provide ongoing cost saving for the Council.
  • The smaller number of Councillors would make it more difficult for lesser known candidates to be elected.
  • Reduced   numbers   of   Councillors   may   mean that electors may feel that they are not adequately represented if they don't have an affinity with any of the elected members.
  • Voters  choose  Councillors  from  the  full  field  of candidates standing for election.
  • Elected Councillors represent all residents and ratepayers.
  • Councillors must be fullly familiar with matters across the whole Shire not only their ward. This may result in better decisions.
  • May result in some geographical areas without a local elected representative.
  • May increase Councillors workload and capacity to communicate across the larger area.
  • May result in community confusion as to who to access to have a local matter addressed.
  • May result in the need for a whole of Council election to fulfil a vacancy which would incur additional cost to Council.
  • A perception that access to Councillors is reduced as they may live further away or the majority may represent a particular group or interest rather than a local area