Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Party politics and Wangaratta Council

with 2 comments

31 Oct 08

Party politics & Council elections



Until now, Rural City of Wangaratta councillors have shown no overtly political allegencies.  However, we know that candidates Keiren Chambers and Rozi Parisotto have previously aspired to National Party election at the state level and a third candidate, Lauren O’Neil, is a leading figure in the ALP.

Two more candidates, Doug McPhie and Bernard Young claim there is ‘no room for party politics’ (P9) playing a part around the council table.  Bernard Young says,”The existence of voting blocks in the council at Wangaratta could see the splitting of council on a regular basis, returning us to the days of council pre November 2005 elections”.  He goes on to say, “The community made their view known at that election when they voted in three unaligned councillors”.

That is an invalid argument as the VEC had changed the voting system AND abolished wards for the 2005 elections.  The outcome was as accidental as it is possible to get.  Of course, the tranparency of postal voting leaves much to be desired as the counting is done in-house and I believe without outside scrutineers.  (I may be wrong there but I am sure someone will tell me if I am)

So, we got three unaligned councillors and what has been the result?  We have put up with a council of “rubber stampers” who together with the pre-existing ‘block’ have not been able to originate one agenda item in council for the three years.  Every item on every meeting agenda throughout their term originated in the bureaucracy and has allowed the ‘system’ to work the way a dedicated CEO would want.

But, of course, that’s what an effective CEO needs and Doug Sharp, having successfully recommended his term be extended by two years, the week before council went into caretaker mode, will be looking for a continuation of ‘business as usual’ and political alignment might not have brought the same result.

If the current council were not ‘rubber stamps’ one would imagine they would have rejected the proposal to extend the CEO’s appointment and allowed the newly elected council the freedom to make that decision.

One can even imagine an overzealous CEO being tempted to manipulate the postal vote to ensure s/he had the most co-operative set of councilors to work with.  You know the old saying, “You scratch my back … “.  God help us if that ever happened in our council.

Of course, in the last council, we had the drama of an ‘independant’ Justin Sholz unsuccessfully trying to stand up against that ‘block’.  After being publicly gagged by the Mayor, Don Joyce, he succumbed to the system and resigned half way through the term to be replaced by Ron Webb who is standing again.

On Page 3 of the Chronicle, we find that the newspaper’s web poll showed 64% of voters were not against the concept of party politics on council putting candidates Young and McPhie at odds with public opinion.

The existing ‘block’ of Crs Roberto Paino,  Neville Wright, Roanals Webb and Young would be enough to maintain the status quo if they are all re-elected.  However, if Crs Parisotto and Wright together with  ex-councillors nthony Griffith and Keiren Chambers are elected, the balance of power could swing against the ‘block’.  Throw in a bit of party politics with Lauren O’Neil, Parisotto and Chambers and we could expect some conflict whilst the unknown quantities in Doug McPhie, Amanda Campbell, Lisa McInerny and Ron Aldridge and it would keep most CEOs out of any comfort zone they might have envisaged.

There is enough variety of background amongst the candidates to bring a fresh new start to the Rural City of Wangaratta and let us hope that together with the party politics they bring with them, we get past the traditional ‘block’ mentality that supports the bureauracracy too much without question.


Written by Greg Naylor

1 November 2008 at 12:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Surprise surprise, people who take an interest in politics, often have associations with political parties! There was an interesting article about just this issue in the most recent issue of the Victorian Greens newsletter.

    Often we in the Greens cop a bit of flack for publicly acknowledging our political persuasion, but all too often it’s an exercise in hypocrisy. A Greens candidate in one of the current council elections was at a public forum where someone got up and asked each candidate to declare all past or present political affiliations. Some candidates initially refused to answer, but the questioner persisted, and it turned out that many of the most strident opponents of “party politics” were past or present members of conservative political parties.

    As an acknowledged Greens candidate in the Wodonga Council elections, I have been trying to make the point that as someone campaigning for office it’s only appropriate that I publicly acknowledge my party membership. It’s about honesty.


    2 November 2008 at 10:19 am

  2. I like the ‘message’ that’s sandwiched in the middle of your post, Greg.


    3 November 2008 at 1:58 am

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