True Democracy or Not for New Fremantle

Armed with good information

Armed with good information

$80 for a seat on Fremantle City Council
Ward and District info Pros and Cons
General facts/info

I find it quite disturbing to see a council with intent to delay our democratic process to put in place a system more amenable to them
Based on Fremantle’s current 6 wards x 2 councillors + a popularly elected Mayor
Districts 1 with 12 councillors elected by the whole district each elector gets to have 12 votes.
Popular vote no preferences
Each councillor swears same oath to office whether ward or district
If current council disagreed with the amalgamation they had the option of calling for a poll, not trying to fiddle about with the new system.Each elector in a district election would vote for all 12 candidates opposed to just 2 from their ward
Ward pros
• Each ward has councillors elected to represent their views
• Each ward has 2 representatives
• Cheaper for candidates perhaps making it more attractive to a the wider community

Ward Cons
• Allows self interest groups to place pressure onto ward councillor for support for minority interests
• Allows councillor to be elected unopposed
• Allows councillors to be elected without putting forward their position
• Allows underperforming councillors to be re-elected if unopposed.
• Fremantle has had recent elections where 50% of councillors were elected with not 1 vote.
• Allows councillors to horse trade on issues, 1 vote for an issue to keep their electors happy the rest vote against it, allowing no accountability or visa versa
• Under performing councillors not held accountable to whole city district
• Majority of residents don’t even know of ward system or how it works
• If no one challenges for a seat electors have no say in the democratic process at all
• If 4 really good candidates run for the same ward, we as a collective city, we could lose 3 good people as only one may be elected each rotation.
• Just because a candidate runs for a ward doesn’t mean they have to live in that ward or even know anything about it.
• To establish a ward system before the Oct 2015 we would need delay democracy and leave a state government appointed commissioner in charge of the city with little or no oversight.
• Fremantle is undergoing substantial residential developments which will cause unbalance in the ward elector’s system, a district system would allow this to happen with no effect on balanced (fair) representation.

Clearly the cheaper ward option has not attracted many candidates as we see from the number of elections with councillors elected unrepresented

District Pros
• Allows the whole district to judge the performance of each councillor
• Ensure no councillors are elected unopposed if we need 6 and seven stand all must contest the election to win.
• Ensures all candidates will have to have a platform to run on, ie the public get an opportunity to see what they believe in.
• Exposes all candidates to the greater city district scrutiny
• Nullifies effects of small self interest groups
• Allows the system to give the best candidates a opportunity to be elected
• If ward contacts are desirable this could be achieve by elected councillors drawing them out of hat at random.
• Allows the voters not to lose good candidates i.e. 1 ward gets 5 great candidates, only one is elected, then another ward has 2 candidates both poor but one is guarantee to be elected.
• Allows for residential developments to proceed with no effect on the boundary make up saving money and time.
• If groups (precinct) identify with a candidate ward or no ward they can still vote for them.
• District system will have no effect on the precinct groups currently operating, we just have to make new ones for all the incoming suburbs.

District Cons
• Harder for individuals to get out to the whole district cost would be an issue.
• Political parties may have an advantage but Fremantle is politicised already it would make little difference.
• No ward representatives but could be quickly organized, by drawing for wards.

Interesting discussion on the pro wards, anti-district issue at council chambers
Again only councillor Massie looked at the situation from an unbiased point of view, perhaps it’s because if the amalgamation goes ahead, he has nothing to lose as he will be merged with Melville no longer eligible for Fremantle council.
Interesting that several councillors spoke about the importance of ward representation and the voice of the ward being heard, good point? Well not really if u look back at the history of elections in Fremantle.
2009 for examples, 50% of the councillors took seats without a single vote, as no one opposed them.
So effectively 50% of the Fremantle electorate had no say in the formation of its council so the argument that wards system gives true representation is rubbish, in fact it took away 50% of the electors rights to even participate in the electoral process of their so called representative
2007 councillor Fittock was elected not one vote cast
2009 councillor Sullivan was elected with not one vote cast.
2011 councillors Massie, Strachan and Fittock elected with not one vote cast.
2013 councillors, Wilson and Coggin elected with not one vote cast.
In fact councillor Fittock has not been voted for in 2 elections, not one vote in 2007 or 2011 elections.
So how this system ensures representation I’m not sure as they don’t even need to hand out a flyer saying what they are thinking or believe in.
Certainly has nothing to do with democracy if anything the ward system has the ability to take away your democratic vote in the case of candidates running unopposed, it’s like winning pass the parcel because u are the only one who showed up.
It’s seems to be quite clear why they oppose districts, as then every candidate would be on a level playing field, having to front up for the electoral process in its entirety.
Looking at this the district system is the only way to guarantee that all electors are given a voice in the electoral process.

Facts from the counted votes at the 2013 election.
% of cast votes counted in Fremantle’s local government election
Mayoral 38.2%
Beaconsfield 0%
City 37.3 %
East ward 0%
Hilton ward 32.6%
North ward 37.6%
South ward 41.0%
2011 highest was 36%
2009 most wards above 40%
2005 most wards high 40’s to 55%
So since 2005 we have seen a decline in voter turn-out, typically mayoral elections bring a higher turn-out than non-mayoral elections.
The most concerning issue is the lack of candidates for wards, so u can buy a seat on council for $80 bucks and just turning up if there is no other candidates running for that ward seats, districts elections will help stop this.
The district system is East Freo’s best opportunity as all their councillors could run for council, if they all stuck to the ward system just one East Freo ward, the best they would get is 2 seats.
Let’s be clear just because a councillor runs for a seat in a ward doesn’t mean they live in that ward, they could come from anywhere in the district.
District voting it allows the whole electorate to judge all councillors performance, not just the 2 from their ward. Perhaps this is a concern for them?
If we get say 10 to 12 from Freo, 5 or 6 from east Freo, 4-5 from the old Cockburn areas and another 1/2 dozen from old Melville areas we could have a really good election.
That alone could lift the veil of apathy.
End of the day a district election show a truer form of democracy and if the electors decide they prefer the ward system after the next election they can ask to have the boundaries adjusted as is their right under the ACT.

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