Eight divisions for Redlands Council?

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Possible eight Divisions (shown A-H) instead of the existing Divisions 1-10

Plans to reduce the number of Redland City councillors were recently canvassed on radio 612 ABC.

It is understood Council officers have examined options for six, eight and ten Councillors and a number of electoral distribution maps for each of these options. The option favoured by Council’s dominant faction appears to be for eight divisions (known within Council as Option 4).

A map of Option 4 shows the possible new eight divisions with red edging and the letters A to H.  The ten existing Divisions are shown with black edging numbered 1 to 10.

The existing divisions are mapped on the Council web site as Elected members and divisions. For ease of reference Divisional Councillors at present are:

Division 1 (Wellington Pt, Ormiston) – Wendy Boglary
Division 2 (Cleveland, North Stradbroke Island) – Craig Ogilvie
Division 3 (Cleveland South, Thornlands) – Kim-Maree Hardman
Division 4 (Victoria Pt, Coochiemudlo Island, Thornlands, Redland Bay) – Lance Hewlett
Division 5 (Redland Bay, Bay Islands) – Mark Edwards
Division 6 (Mt Cotton, Sheldon, Thornlands, Victoria Point, Redland Bay) – Julie Talty
Division 7 (Alexandra Hills South/Capalaba) – Murray Elliott
Deputy Mayor / Division 8 (Alexandra Hills North, Birkdale South) – Alan Beard
Division 9 (Capalaba) – Paul Gleeson
Division 10 (Birkdale North, Thorneside) – Paul Bishop

Accepting there will be new candidates contesting the election and some existing Councillors may not re-contest the election it is still interesting to see how the new arrangements will impact on the incumbents.

The changes to Divisions 4 (see F),  5 (H) and 6 (G) are minimal. Division 9 stays largely aligned to the proposed Division D.  So Councillors Talty and Edwards would be well placed and Councillors Hewlett and Gleeson could take some comfort from the mooted “Option 4”. But if North Stradbroke Island is added to Division H, its councillor would be spending a lot of time on ferries.

The changes to the existing Divisions 1, 2, 3, 7,  8, 10  to create four new Divisions labelled A, B, C and E require “major surgery” to the existing divisions and their associated communities of interest.

This could put incumbent Councillors Boglary, Ogilvie, Bishop, Beard, Elliot and Hardman  into 2 or possibly 3 way contests. Coincidently, four of these six councillors have a record of voting independently and questioning the proposals put forward by the dominant faction. Is there any rhyme or reason for such changes to numbers of councillors and division boundaries? If so, this should be made public to allow for informed community discussion before any decision is made.

Will the people have a say?

A safety valve on our Council is understood to be that the “the final decision on boundaries and the number of divisions rested with councillors, who would also need state approval” see Redland City Bulletin 12 November 2014Before that step, Redlanders should have an opportunity to engage in proper debate about the need for change and ensuring any change is for the better.

The Mayor’s views and those of some Councillors were broadcast on  612 ABC on 19 January. The ABCs Facebook page also told of the Council’s investigations into reducing its own numbers.  The current Council has demonstrated often that it is not committed to genuine community consultation. Dribbling out the idea of changes to the number of councillors during the summer holiday “silly season” via superficial coverage on a “friendly” radio station talkback program is not the right way to deal with such issues. Council should publish a discussion paper on its website and invite comments from the community.

Other questions about how democracy at the local government level

Despite the superficial appeal of cutting costs, Redlanders may benefit from a broader reform agenda.   What changes will deliver better local government decisions with increased transparency? Ideas should be canvassed as a means of improving our democratic processes . There are other models and we can look elsewhere and learn from the experience of others for ways to improve representation, effectiveness, efficiency, efficacy and community liaison.

If cutting costs is the most important issue for Redland City, what other initiatives might yield larger cost savings?

Tinkering with democratic structures is not something to be rushed with inadequate or highly selective public consultation.

If you are concerned about the City’s  democratic processes let the Mayor and your Councillor know how you feel … soon.

You might also ask for a public forum or information sessions so the community can comment on options.

Further, please join the debate by making comment on this on this website or on the Redlands2030 Facebook page. 

In a few days Redlands2030 will look at options for the election and number of Councillors and how they might be elected.  Any ideas are welcomed. In addition to the comments on the web page or Facebook page send your suggestions (and citations if available) to theReporter@Redlands2030.net

Other posts on this issue

This is the second post on this issue. The first post was:

Musical chairs at Redland City Council

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

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6 thoughts on “Eight divisions for Redlands Council?

  1. the RCC needs Councillors that will represent the whole of the city and not just pork barrell their little bit to the detriment of the rest ….the suburbs with the highest populations and the lowest infrastructure should be of concern to the whole city ….comfortable little niche’ Councillors that have used block tactics in the past are starting to sweat now the focus is on either larger areas which have been willfully neglected . The fact that they may have to answer to the whole of the city for their council voting practice’s may not like the idea of being exposed outside of their safe haven ….BUT I would hate to see more state government interference by continuing to align Councillors with political parties and that applies to both sides of politics.

  2. What an abuse of power the Mayor has shown this time. To claim the officers have drawn this up is also a load of rubbish. In the past the councillors have sat and discussed the boundaries as there has always been an increase in population so the boundaries have been tweaked to accommodate the change. An absolute manipulation of boundaries to suit the Mayor, as it seems that those who stand up to her and question the poor decision made are now being targeted. With an increase in population I question the need to reduce elected members, this seems like nothing more than an opportunity to rid Mayor Williams of Independent thinking people and have a team funded AGAIN by the development industry. It is always more difficult for an independent to fund a campaign when big money is splashed around by those who have something to gain by getting a team of like minded Councillors elected. The up coming Planning Scheme will be a good example of who got what rezoned and how much they funded the 2012 Council election. Don’t be sucked into the red herring “it will save ratepayers money” as once elected their wages will go up to justify the increases in residents.
    This is nothing more than gagging democracy and getting a select cashed up team elected.
    To claim it is up to the State Government is also cop out as the Council send the amended boundary map and a letter justifying the population changes and the state just give it a tick, it happens every election.

  3. Still no authors names to the articles on here! Am I the only one wondering why not?

    We have to assume that Councillors will act in the community’s best interests but I suspect that they will act in terms of self preservation. Take Cr Boglary for instance it was reported in our local paper that should the suggested changes occur she would be up against Cr Bishop and Cr Ogilvie would be up against Cr Elliot. I would therefore suggest that these four will come out in opposition.
    I am waiting to read the Council Officers recommendation – a report that I assume is based on fact, devoid of self preservation and political input……..

  4. All the islands of Redland should be represented by one councillor and that division is Moreton Bay. So the islands representation has a clear agenda in servicing the islands for health education transport infrastructure and social services.

    • Alternatively Ursula, a single councillor for the islands could be safely ignored and marginalised, the majority of current councillors have put SMBI in the too hard basket.
      Like Toni, I believe this is all about consolidating power – a process that has continued from the outset.

      • Robin do you recall back in the past there was a Councillor who represented the Bay Islands and Straddie and the residents of Straddie never saw him. I agree many Councillors just dont appreciate the issues on the bay islands, Craig has done lots for the Straddie community they wont be happy…..this is nothing more than trying to rid the Mayor of those who are outspoken of her performance and poor decisions.