Manjimup to lose councillors and wards with new reform


2023-01-24 23:30:00

The Shire of Manjimup has been forced to axe three council seats and four wards under new Local Government Act reforms across WA.

Three council members will face the axe under the new structure at the next local government election in October, while the Shire’s six-ward system will change to a two-ward system to meet the Act’s population requirements.

The Shire Council — after a 45-day public consultation period from October 25 which returned 47 submissions — voted to adopt the two-ward system on Thursday, identifying that the existing central ward would become one ward and the existing north, east, west, coastal and south wards would be combined to be the second ward.

Each ward will have four councillors.

Ward name changes have also been introduced, including Central Ward to Urban Ward, and all five other wards to Rural Ward.

The Shire will also be following an optional preferential voting system under the changes and a directly elected president who will be a ninth member of the council.

Shire of Manjimup CEO Andrew Campbell produced a 2022 Ward and Representation Review discussion paper for consultation purposes which included a summary of the most probable options of councillor numbers and ward options.

It was clear from the community consultation submissions the protection of the principles of elector representation was of the highest importance.

Shire of Manjimup president Paul Omodei said the elector representation of all communities was protected as much as possible by using the eight-councillor, two-ward system that will be primarily transitioned to in 2023, with minor adjustments in 2025.

“Reforms to the Local Government Act 1995 were inevitable,” he said.

“Council has come to a decision that best represents the interests of the community as identified in the consultation submissions.”

The majority of submissions preferred the recently passed transition plan.

Mr Omodei said he wanted to make it clear to all ratepayers the changes were not an imposition by the council but by the State Government, but councillors had done their best to listen to all feedback.

“Given the reduction in the number of councillors and the elector population distribution in the Shire of Manjimup, it is simply not possible to maintain the existing six-ward structure because of average representation requirements,” he said.

Mr Omodei said the councillor reduction made it very difficult to retain the current six-ward system and would put Walpole and Northcliffe at risk of losing representation after the 2025 local government election.

These major changes are aimed at slimming down the sector and providing better value for money for ratepayers.

The Shire will inform the housing minister of its transition plan by February 14.

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