The review of Redland City divisional boundaries is listed in the agenda for the Council General Meeting (on 11 February). Unfortunately, when the agenda was published the report was still being finalised. Hopefully, councillors and the community will get a chance to see the report before the meeting starts.
It is understood the report may be about more than a redistribution to accommodate population change. Since last year there have been suggestions from Council that the number of councillors might be reduced from ten to perhaps eight or even six.
At its meeting on 28 January the Council rejected a motion (item 14.1.1) to make publicly available all mapping proposals for future divisional boundary changes. Instead, Council resolved (item 15.1.2) to
publish on Council’s web site through the ‘Get the Facts’ section, a report which outlines the justifications and process under the Local Government Act, 2009 relating to Council’s consideration of options in the review of the divisional structure and boundaries for the 2016 local government elections in Redland. This includes information about future community consultation and the roles of the Council, Local Government Minister and Change Commissioner in the decision-making process.
On 5 February the Council published on its website a news release titled Boundary review an independent process
This news release points out that the ultimate decision about any changes to the number of councillors and divisional boundaries will be made by the Electoral Commissioner acting in accordance with the Local Government Act.
Council’s news release does not explain why Council does not wish to consult with the community, at this early stage of the review process, about whether there should be any reduction to the number of councillors.
The onus is on the Mayor and others advocating the change to “prove” there are benefits. Cost savings should not be the sole determinate of changing existing democratic representation. A starting point has to be proper community consultation underpinned by a full analysis of the benefits and other implications.
An open consultative process about such significant issues as the number of councillors would have ensured public confidence that the Council’s consideration of electoral changes is entirely impartial and in the public interest.
Given the outcomes of the recent State election where top down, arrogant decision making was repudiated by the electors, the Council should re-consider its approach to community engagement.
The political ramifications of not listening could be severe.
Of concern are reports (and at least one Councillor’s words on social media) that the community does not care about consultation.
The Redlands community has a reputation for engaging in major policy and planning issues. If that conclusion is shared by many Councillors then Council needs to re think its model for community engagement and consultation.
A starting point would be the “Five keys to Broad and Inclusive Community Engagement” by Jim Diers. Its simple stuff.
Read all about the Asset Management Project instead
The absence from the published agenda of the report on review of divisional boundaries is at odds with agenda item 11.1.1 Asset Management Project.
The project documentation is massive, very thorough and looks at costs, benefits, options, and all manner of issues. This is all for a project with a cost of $2.1 million over 3 years. It is undoubtedly a worthwhile initiative but it also begs a question.
Why can Council make information about the Asset Management Project before the Council meeting while not publishing a report about changes to the way that councillers will be elected in just over 12 months from now?
Other posts about this issue include: