Push for multi-wards in Gosnells

Push for multi-wards in Gosnells

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City of Gosnells residents who attended a special electors meeting on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of reinstating a multi-ward electoral system.

The Gosnells District Progress and Ratepayers Association called for the meeting, which was attended by about 24 people to discuss a move from the current one ward system to multiple wards.

The association moved that the city implement a multi-ward system and submit a recommendation to the Local Government Advisory Board and the Local Government Minister ahead of the 2017 local government elections.

A similar motion was also moved by Kenwick resident Leon Walker.

Both motions received 17 votes in favour and two against.

Association president Sandra Baraiolo said having wards meant each area had a specific councillor who would know the issues associated with their ward and would have a greater connection to the area.

“If you have councillors where you live, you get to know them better,” she said.

“Without wards you can end up with councillors who are all in one area.”

She said while the association wanted wards it was up to the council to decide how many.
Association secretary Terry Brown said as a former councillor he had experienced both systems and felt wards were the better option.

He said federal and state governments were divided into electorates to allow for better representation and local government should be divided in a similar manner.

Member for Gosnells Chris Tallentire spoke in favour of the wards system and said he was often approached by residents wanting to know who ‘their’ councillor was.

Member for Southern River Peter Abetz also spoke in favour of wards because of the size of the city.

“As a state member I have about 23,000 voters,” he said.

“I’m a full time member of Parliament and I try to get to know as many voters as possible but it’s physically impossible to get to know everyone.

“There are about 60,000 electors (in the city) so councillors are running in an electorate that is almost as large as a federal electorate.

“It’s hard to get your name out there and even getting a flyer in every letter box is a huge undertaking.”

Resident Daniel Newman said there were just five metropolitan local governments with a one-ward system and all of them were significantly smaller than the City of Gosnells.

The largest of these local governments was the City of Kwinana, which had about 17,000 electors.

Councillor David Goode said the system should remain as it is.

He said the one ward system was introduced to accommodate increasing development, which had not yet finished.

Councillors Dave Griffiths and Glenn Dewhurst also spoke against wards because the current system meant people could approach all 12 councillors.

Resident Kathleen Edmonds said residents could still approach all councillors under a wards system but it also allowed people to have their own local councillor.

The one ward system was adopted in 2009 to accommodate large population growths in Southern River, which was forcing the city to redraw boundaries regularly to maintain a similar population across all wards.

With much of Southern River now developed, population growth has slowed down, leading to the wards debate being reignited.

The city launched a review last year after it received a submission signed by 250 electors requesting the council reconsider its position ahead of the 2017 local government elections.