Baw Baw Shire Council preliminary report

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Preliminary Report
2015 Baw Baw Shire Council
Electoral Representation Review
Wednesday 16 September 2015
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
Contents
1 Executive summary ................................................................................................................... 4
2 Background ............................................................................................................................... 6
2.1 Legislative basis ................................................................................................................. 6
2.2 The VEC’s approach .......................................................................................................... 6
2.3 The VEC’s principles .......................................................................................................... 8
2.4 The electoral representation review process ....................................................................... 8
3 Baw Baw Shire Council representation review ........................................................................ 10
3.1 Background ...................................................................................................................... 10
3.2 Public submissions (preliminary) ...................................................................................... 12
4 The VEC’s findings and options .............................................................................................. 16
4.1 Preliminary report findings ................................................................................................ 16
4.2 Options ............................................................................................................................. 22
5 Next steps ............................................................................................................................... 23
5.1 Response submissions ..................................................................................................... 23
5.2 Public hearing ................................................................................................................... 23
5.3 Final report ....................................................................................................................... 24
Appendix 1: List of preliminary submissions ............................................................................... 25
Appendix 2: Option maps ........................................................................................................... 26
Appendix 3: Public information program ..................................................................................... 30
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
1 Executive summary
The Local Government Act 1989 (the Act) requires the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) to
conduct an electoral representation review of each municipality in Victoria before every third
council general election.
The purpose of an electoral representation review is to recommend an electoral structure that
provides fair and equitable representation for the persons who are entitled to vote at a general
election of the council. The matters considered by a review are:

the number of councillors

the electoral structure of the council (whether the council should be unsubdivided or
divided into wards and, if subdivided, the details of the wards).
The VEC conducts all reviews on the basis of three main principles:
1. ensuring the number of voters represented by each councillor is within 10 per cent of the
average number of voters per councillor for that municipality
2. taking a consistent, State-wide approach to the total number of councillors and
3. ensuring communities of interest are as fairly represented as possible.
2015 electoral representation review
The current electoral representation review for Baw Baw Shire Council commenced on
Wednesday 22 July 2015.
Current electoral structure
The last electoral representation review for Baw Baw Shire Council took place in 2007. The
review recommended nine councillors elected from three two-councillor wards and one
three-councillor ward.
Preliminary submissions
Six preliminary submissions were received by close of submissions at 5.00 pm on Wednesday
19 August. Submitters included Baw Baw Shire Council, Baw Baw Ratepayers Society, the
Proportional Representation Society of Australia (PRSA) and residents.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
VEC options
The following options are being considered by the VEC:

Option A (preferred option)
Baw Baw Shire Council continue to consist of nine councillors elected from one
three-councillor ward and three two-councillor wards, with modified ward
boundaries.

Option B (alternative option)
Baw Baw Shire Council consist of nine councillors elected from three
three-councillor wards.

Option C (alternative option)
Baw Baw Shire Council consist of nine councillors elected from one
four-councillor ward, one three-councillor ward and one two-councillor ward.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
2 Background
2.1 Legislative basis
The Act requires the VEC to conduct an electoral representation review of each municipality in
Victoria before every third general council election, or earlier if gazetted by the Minister for Local
Government.
The Act specifies that the purpose of a representation review is to recommend the number of
councillors and the electoral structure that provides ‘fair and equitable representation for the
persons who are entitled to vote at a general election of the Council.’1
The Act requires the VEC to consider:

the number of councillors in a municipality and

whether a municipality should be unsubdivided or subdivided.
If a municipality should be subdivided, the VEC must ensure that the number of voters
represented by each councillor is within 10 per cent of the average number of voters per
councillor for that municipality.2 On this basis, the review must consider the:

number of wards

ward boundaries (and ward names) and

the number of councillors that should be elected for each ward.
2.2 The VEC’s approach
Deciding on the number of councillors
The Act allows for a municipality to have between 5 and 12 councillors, but does not specify how
to decide the appropriate number.3 In considering the number of councillors for a municipality,
the VEC is guided by the Victorian Parliament’s intention for fairness and equity in the local
representation of voters under the Act.
The VEC considers that there are three major factors that should be taken into account:

diversity of the population

councillors’ workloads and

the situation in similar municipalities.
1
Section 219D of the Local Government Act 1989.
ibid.
3 Section 5B(1) of the Local Government Act 1989.
2
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
Generally, those municipalities that have a larger number of voters will have a higher number of
councillors. Often large populations are more likely to be diverse, both in the nature and number
of their communities of interest and the issues of representation.
However, the VEC considers the particular situation of each municipality in regards to: the nature
and complexity of services provided by the Council; geographic size and topography; population
growth or decline; and the social diversity of the municipality, including social disadvantage and
cultural and age mix.
Deciding the electoral structure
The Act allows for a municipality ward structure to be:

unsubdivided—with all councillors elected ‘at-large’ by all voters or

subdivided into a number of wards.
If the municipality is subdivided into wards, there are a further three options available:
1. single-councillor wards
2. multi-councillor wards or
3. a combination of single-councillor and multi-councillor wards.
A subdivided municipality must have internal ward boundaries that provide for a fair and
equitable division of the municipality, and ensure that the number of voters represented by each
councillor remains within 10 per cent of the average number of voters per councillor for the
municipality.
In considering which electoral structure is most appropriate, the VEC considers the following
matters:

communities of interest, consisting of people who share a range of common concerns,
such as geographic, economic or cultural associations

the longevity of the structure, with the aim of keeping voter numbers per councillor within
the 10 per cent tolerance as long as possible

geographic factors, such as size and topography

the number of voters in potential wards, as wards with many voters often have a large
number of candidates, which can lead to an increase in the number of informal (invalid)
votes and

clear ward boundaries.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
2.3 The VEC’s principles
Three main principles underlie all the VEC’s work on representation reviews:
1. Ensuring the number of voters represented by each councillor is within 10 per cent
of the average number of voters per councillor for that municipality.
Over time, population changes can lead to some wards in subdivided municipalities having larger
or smaller numbers of voters. As part of the review, the VEC corrects any imbalances and also
takes into account likely population changes to ensure ward boundaries provide equitable
representation for as long as possible.
2. Taking a consistent, State-wide approach to the total number of councillors.
The VEC is guided by its comparisons of municipalities of a similar size and category to the
council under review. The VEC also considers any special circumstances that may warrant the
municipality having more or fewer councillors than similar municipalities.
3. Ensuring communities of interest are as fairly represented as possible.
Each municipality contains a number of communities of interest. Where practicable, the electoral
structure should be designed to ensure they are fairly represented, and that geographic
communities of interest are not split by ward boundaries. This allows elected councillors to be
more effective representatives of the people and interests in their particular municipality or ward.
2.4 The electoral representation review process
Developing recommendations
The VEC bases its recommendations for particular electoral structures on the following
information:

internal research specifically relating to the municipality under review, including Australian
Bureau of Statistics and .id (Informed Decisions) Pty Ltd data4; voter statistics from the
Victorian electoral roll; and other State and local government data sets

small area forecasts provided by .id (Informed Decisions) Pty Ltd

the VEC’s experience conducting previous electoral representation reviews of local
councils and similar reviews for State elections

the VEC’s expertise in mapping, demography and local government
4
.id is a company specialising in population and demographic analysis that builds suburb-level
demographic information products in most jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review

careful consideration of all input from the public in written and verbal submissions
received during the review and

advice from consultants with extensive experience in local government.
Public involvement
Public input is accepted by the VEC:

in preliminary submissions at the start of the review

in response submissions to the preliminary report and

in a public hearing that provides an opportunity for people who have made a response
submission to expand on this submission.
Public submissions are an important part of the process, but are not the only consideration
during a review. The VEC ensures its recommendations are in compliance with the Act and are
formed through careful consideration of public submissions, independent research, and analysis
of all relevant factors, such as the need to give representation to communities of interest.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
3 Baw Baw Shire Council representation review
3.1 Background
Profile of Baw Baw Shire Council
Baw Baw Shire Council was formed in 1994 through the amalgamation of the Shires of Buln
Buln, Narracan, Warragul and parts of the Upper Yarra Shire. The Baw Baw local government
area encompasses 4,031 square kilometres, and is situated in West Gippsland between
Melbourne’s south-eastern growth corridor and the Latrobe Valley.5 The northern part of the
Shire is heavily forested and includes Baw Baw National Park, Bunyip National Park and Mt Baw
Baw, while the southern part of the Shire is used largely for dairy farming and agriculture.6
Although predominantly a rural municipality, the Shire has a number of rural-residential and
urban areas, with the majority of the population residing across the towns of Warragul, Drouin,
Trafalgar, Yarragon, Longwarry and Neerim South.
Baw Baw Shire has an estimated resident population of approximately 46,000 people,7 with
37,107 eligible voters.8 In the period up to 2031, population growth is set to increase significantly
in Baw Baw, with an expected population of around 74,000 people. This is a forecast annual
growth rate of 2.75 per cent.9
The demographic profile of Baw Baw is relatively consistent with the rural and regional Victorian
average; although workforce participation in Baw Baw Shire is moderately higher (63.6 per cent),
while unemployment is lower (3.1 per cent). Subsequently, the Shire has slightly higher
percentages of high-and low-income earners than the rural and regional Victorian average.
The major industries of employment in Baw Baw Shire Council are healthcare and social
assistance (11.5 per cent), followed by construction (11.5 per cent); retail trade (10 per cent);
agriculture, forestry and fisheries (9.4 per cent); and manufacturing (9 per cent). A significant
dairy sector exists in the Shire, as well as hydroponics and agribusiness companies, and
innovative food processing manufacturers.10
Communities of interest
A geographically diverse municipality, Baw Baw Shire can broadly be divided into three
communities of interest: the mountainous area in the north, high quality agricultural land in the
5
Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure, Baw Baw Planning Scheme, 2014.
profile.id: Community Profile.
7 2011 ABS Census.
8 Data derived by the Victorian Electoral Commission from State and Council voter rolls (as at January
2015).
9 Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure, Victoria in Future 2014, 2014.
10 Baw Baw Shire Council, Annual Report 2008.
6
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
southern areas of the Shire, and large urban population centres (i.e. Warragul and Drouin)
toward the west of the shire and along the Princes Highway. It is these latter areas where
population growth is forecast to increase the most. Increasingly Warragul and Drouin, and to a
lesser extent Trafalgar, are becoming commuter suburbs to Melbourne. As with many councils
located just outside the Melbourne fringe, the Shire includes small, population dense urban
towns and suburbs, with large tracts of rural, sparsely populated land.
Current electoral structure
The last electoral representation review for Baw Baw Shire Council took place in 2008. Following
the review, the VEC recommended that the subdivided structure of the council change from nine
single-councillor wards to nine councillors elected from one three-councillor ward (containing the
growth areas of Warragul) and three two-councillor wards in the remainder of the Shire.
The VEC considered that the introduction of multi-councillor wards would improve representation
of voters by providing a wider range of candidates at election, therefore broadening interests
represented on the council and avoiding uncontested elections in the more remote parts of the
Shire. Sharing of councillor workloads, particularly in the rural and remote parts of the Shire, was
also seen as a distinct benefit of a multi-councillor structure. The VEC also considered that five
councillors representing the urban areas of the Shire and four councillors representing the rural
and remote areas was appropriate.
Public information program
The Baw Baw Shire Council representation review commenced on Wednesday 22 July. The
VEC conducted a public information program to inform the community, including:

public notices printed in local and state-wide papers

a public information session to outline the review process and respond to questions from
the community

a media release announcing the commencement of the review

coverage through the municipality’s media, e.g. Council website or newsletter

a helpline and dedicated email address to answer public enquiries

ongoing information updates and publication of submissions on the VEC website and

a Guide for Submissions to explain the review process and provide background
information on the scope of the review.
See Appendix 3 for full details of the public information program.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
3.2 Public submissions (preliminary)
The VEC received six preliminary submissions by the deadline for submissions at 5.00 pm on
Wednesday 19 August.11 The submissions are publicly available on the VEC website.
The matrix below provides an overview of preferences in the preliminary submissions. Detailed
analysis of the submissions follows.
Submitter wanted
fewer wards
Submitter wanted
ward number to
remain
unchanged
Submitter wanted
councillor
number to remain
unchanged
3
1
Submitter wanted
more councillors
2
Submitter wanted
more wards
Submitter did not
comment on
number of wards
Submitter wanted
fewer councillors
Submitter did not
comment on
number of
councillors
Number of councillors
The number of councillors recommended for Baw Baw Shire Council varied among submitters.
Four out of six submissions suggested that the current number of nine councillors was sufficient,
while two submissions recommended increasing councillor numbers to 11. However, all
submitters recommended retaining an uneven number of councillors on the basis that this
reduced the need for a casting vote in the instance of split decisions.
Nine councillors
The submission from Baw Baw Shire Council argued that retaining nine councillors was
appropriate, with voter numbers in the Shire comparable to other nine councillor municipalities in
rural and regional Victoria. While growth is expected in the Shire and is likely to result in some
additional work, the Council was confident that councillor workloads are and will remain
manageable and there were no extenuating circumstances warranting an increase.
11
Two submissions were received from one submitter, Ian Bruce McDonald, with the second submission
containing supplementary information in support of the first submission. For the purposes of this report,
this is considered one submission.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
The submission from Will Blackburn also argued that the current number of councillors was
appropriate, providing adequate staffing of the various council committees without increasing the
financial burden on taxpayers. He further argued that decreasing the number of councillors would
make councillor workloads unmanageable.
Two submissions favoured increasing the number of councillors from nine to 11. A key argument
in both these submissions was the large number of councillors that represented the current Baw
Baw Shire land area prior to amalgamation (over 30 councillors). Ian Bruce McDonald further
argued that an increase in councillors to 11 was justified as the Shire is geographically large with
a wide distribution of voters—each councillor representing more than 10 geographic communities
of interest (i.e. localities).
Electoral structure
At the last representation review in 2008, Baw Baw Shire Council changed from a
single-councillor to a multi-councillor ward structure. Despite variations in preferred electoral
structures, there was consensus among submitters that the introduction of a multi-councillor
ward structure was beneficial, enabling the proportional representation system of voting and
equitable representation of voters across the urban, rural and remote parts of the Shire.
No submissions recommended a return to single councillor wards, and two submissions
specifically cautioned against introducing an unsubdivided structure, the view being that
representatives elected from the major urban areas of Warragul and Drouin may come to
dominate the Council and reduce rural representation.
Despite a preference for a multi-councillor ward electoral structure among all submitters, four
different models were recommended, and are discussed in detail below.
Nine councillors elected from one three-councillor ward and three two-councillor wards
(existing structure)
The submission from William Blackburn recommended retaining the current structure, with
changes only made in the instances that the legislative equality requirement is no longer met.
The submission argued that the current structure is working well, highlighting the effectiveness of
the current alignment of wards in allowing for proportional representation and representation of
smaller wards.
Nine councillors elected from three three-councillor wards
Councillor David Lyons preferred changing the electoral structure to nine councillors elected from
three three-councillor wards, placing the three larger towns of Warragul, Drouin and Trafalgar
into separate wards. The submission specifically argued that Yarragon and Warragul, currently in
different wards, were linked socially and should be grouped together in a new Warragul Ward
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
that extends to the southern boundary of the Shire. Similarly, a ward running the full length of the
Shire that includes the towns of Trafalgar, Willow Grove, Thorpdale, Yarragon South and Hill End
was also recommended. This model would place Drouin with the north-west area of the Shire in
the one ward.
While preferring an unsubdivided structure, the Proportional Representation Society of Australia
(PRSA) also supported the model of three three-councillor wards. This was on the basis that the
quota of votes required to be elected is effectively equal in each ward—with each candidate
elected equally across the Shire. The PRSA recommended against retaining the current four
ward structure on the basis that the current three councillor ward plays ‘kingmaker’, with the
other three wards being ‘stalemate’ wards.
Nine councillors elected from one four-councillor ward, one three-councillor ward and one
two-councillor ward
Baw Baw Shire Council’s submission outlined that the current multi-councillor structure is
working well for Baw Baw, and would only require minor modification of boundaries to manage
projected growth. The submission argued the model had increased fair and equitable
representation, especially for smaller communities in the rural north, and allowed councillors to
develop a good rapport with their respective communities.
However, despite the efficacy of the current structure, the Council submitted that the current
ward boundaries did not adequately capture the north-south road corridors, which was
particularly problematic for councillor workloads (due to travel), especially in the north. The
submission recommended that the introduction of a structure that acknowledged these traffic
corridors and supported a blend of rural and township residents would best serve the
municipality. In response, the Council submitted a model recommending reducing the current
number of wards to three, with boundaries running the length of the Shire, each including a large
town (Warragul, Drouin, and Trafalgar) and surrounding rural areas.
The Council’s submission recommended against introducing an unsubdivided structure on the
basis that this could disadvantage smaller communities in the Shire, as the election of
candidates from less populated rural and remote areas was less likely. Further concerns were
raised about creating wards that just incorporate the town of Warragul and Drouin, excluding
rural areas. The Council’s view was that a combination of multi-councillor and single-councillor
wards was undesirable, would introduce mixed systems counting, and would reduce the capacity
for councillors to share workloads.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
Eleven councillors elected from one five-councillor ward, one four-councillor ward and
one three-councillor ward
Similar to the other models requesting a change of structure, the submissions made by the Baw
Baw Shire Council Ratepayers Association (BBSCRA) and Ian Bruce MacDonald recommended
creating three wards that include one of the major towns (Warragul, Trafalgar and Drouin) and
surrounding rural areas in each ward. However, given the preference for 11 councillors, the
submissions advocated for a three-ward structure running north to south, comprising a
five-councillor Centre Ward (including Warragul and surrounds), one four-councillor West Ward
(including Drouin and Drouin East), and a two-councillor East Ward (including Trafalgar,
Trafalgar South and Trafalgar East).
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
4 The VEC’s findings and options
4.1 Preliminary report findings
The VEC appreciates the considered opinion of submitters regarding a preferred electoral
structure for Baw Baw Shire Council, and acknowledges the broad diversity of recommendations.
In response, the VEC has identified three electoral structures for public consideration, discussed
in detail below.
Number of councillors
The VEC considers that nine councillors is appropriate for Baw Baw Shire Council. Two
submissions recommended increasing councillor numbers to 11. However this is considered to
result in over-representation when compared with other rural councils in Victoria. As Table 2
demonstrates, Baw Baw Shire Council sits well within the banding table of nine councillor
councils, with both Wellington and East Gippsland municipalities demonstrating higher
voter-to-councillor ratios. Population growth and geographic diversity across the Shire were
considered as possible reasons for increasing councillor numbers. However, growth is expected
to be moderate and largely in the urban areas, with minimal decline across the rural balance, and
similar geographic diversity can be found in other nine councillor councils (such as Wellington).
Table 2: comparable rural councils to Baw Baw Shire Council
Municipality
Population
(2011
Census)
Number of
voters at
last review
Current
estimate of
voters#
Number of
councillors
Number of
voters per
councillor
Wellington*
41,400
37,914
42,595
9
6,085
East Gippsland
42,196
38,318
40,819
9
4,535
Baw Baw*
42,864
29,772
37,107
9
4,123
Macedon
Ranges
41,860
33,175
35,611
9
3,957
Surf Coast
25,870
29,535
31,582
9
3,509
Mitchell
34,637
26,057
29,402
9
3,267
* The municipality is currently undergoing an electoral representation review by the VEC during 2015–16.
# Voter estimate calculated after the January 2015 merge of the State electoral roll and Council-only electors as at the
2012 council elections.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
Electoral structure
One of the complexities with developing an effective electoral structure for Baw Baw Shire is
managing the competing geographic communities of interest, which was highlighted by the
diversity of recommendations contained within submissions. The Shire is comprised of multiple
urban areas characterised by population growth, a mountainous northern region and farming
districts in the south. Based on land use, the Shire’s current electoral structure appropriately
captures this diversity and allows for representation of these interests. However, arguments were
also put forward about the north-south orientation that also exists in the Shire, creating
connections between the urban areas and surrounding rural areas (both in the north and south).
Based on these competing communities of interest, the VEC has developed the following three
electoral models for public consideration.
Option A (preferred option) – nine councillors elected from three two-councillor wards
and one three-councillor ward (existing structure with minor change)
The VEC’s preferred option is to retain the existing structure, with minor changes to Drouin
Ward’s boundaries. The VEC considers that this structure is working well, supported by electoral
statistics that indicate a good number of candidates running for election (providing adequate
voter choice) and a low average informal vote rate at both the 2008 and 2012 council elections.
Geographic communities of interest are broadly contained within the current ward structure, with
the mountainous north and the farming districts in the south each represented by a two-councillor
ward, and the growing urban wards of Warragul and Drouin each contained within their own
ward.
Importantly, Baw Baw Shire Council also shared the view that the structure is working well,
although this was not the Council’s preferred model. The submission noted that issues have
been broadened beyond the boundaries of a single ward (encouraging strategic foresight and
planning), have allowed councillors to be highly accessible to their communities and facilitated a
sharing of councillor workloads. Furthermore, the current electoral structure has established
meaningful ward boundaries that accommodate population growth, and allowed for the
introduction of the proportional representation system of voting—this latter point was praised in
the majority of submissions.
However, the model is not without some minor limitations. Firstly, due to legislative requirements,
a minimal change to ward boundaries around Drouin is required. Drouin Ward’s enrolment is
currently 8.75 per cent above the average, and is likely to exceed the 10 per cent tolerance by
the October 2016 election. The VEC proposes to transfer the less densely populated areas
around Drouin into the neighbouring wards, restricting the Drouin Ward to the urban areas. This
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
modification would place 1,007 voters (about 2.6 per cent of the Shire’s total) into different
wards.
This places the less densely populated areas immediately surrounding Drouin from Drouin Ward
into North Ward. While it is desirable to keep these areas together, the majority of growth will
occur within Drouin Ward.
Secondly, North Ward is geographically large, with a wide distribution of voters in 20 localities
throughout the mountainous region. One criticism of the current model raised in submissions is
the inconsistency between the orientation of the current ward (east to west) and the north-south
orientation of the Shire, which is particularly evident in the north, based on road corridors.
While the VEC concedes that this certainly has the potential to impact councillor workloads—
especially if both North Ward councillors are located on one side of the Shire—it keeps together
communities of interest based on land use in the north and the south, which is important for
representation of interests. On balance, the VEC considers that the current structure is working
well, providing fair and equitable representation for voters across the Shire and adequately
represents communities of interest.
Reducing the number of wards (alternative options)
While the VEC’s preferred option retains the current structure with minimum changes, the
majority of public submissions indicated an appetite for reducing the number of wards and
creating ward boundaries that prioritise the north-south corridors and place the major towns
(Warragul, Drouin and Trafalgar) and surrounding rural areas into separate wards. In response,
two further models have been provided for public consultation.
Option B – nine councillors elected from three three-councillor wards
The VEC has modelled nine councillors elected from a three three-ward structure, based on
recommendations in submissions. This model includes a large ward covering two thirds of the
Shire in the east (‘East Ward’). The ward incorporates the urban areas of Trafalgar and
Yarragon, as well as the majority of the mountainous areas in the north (excluding the
uninhabited Gentle Annie mountain area), extending to Childers and Thorpdale in the south and
across to the localities of Seaview and Mountain View. A second smaller ward is created to the
west of the Shire (‘West Ward’), which includes Drouin and surrounding rural areas (including the
uninhabited Gentle Annie). ‘Central Ward’ includes all of the urban and less densely populated
areas immediately surrounding Warragul.
Option B responds to the recommendation in submissions for placing each of the three major
urban areas into separate wards, and recognising the north-south traffic corridors in the Shire.
Compared to Options A and C, the model includes three councillors in each ward, providing an
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
extra councillor to share the workload across the large geographic area in the north and
north-east of the Shire.
The model has the advantage of containing Warragul in one ward—reducing the likelihood of any
rural areas being dominated by the town if placed in the same ward. While this effect is still
possible in the other wards, Trafalgar has a far smaller urban population base, increasing the
chances of candidates being elected across the ward. The ward containing Drouin has a much
smaller geographic size (given the uninhabited nature of the north of the Shire), with a lack of
representation likely to be less problematic as councillors, even if located in Drouin, can easily
travel to all areas in the ward using the north-south road corridors. Furthermore, and in contrast
to the VEC’s Option A, this model keeps both the urban and rural areas of Drouin together.
However, the VEC considers there are a number of limitations with this model. One of these
limitations is the large geographic size of ‘East Ward’, a result of the majority of population
growth occurring along the west boundary of the Shire. Despite having an extra councillor, this is
still a very large area to represent. It is also quite diverse. While the north-south road corridors
are accounted for in this model, it brings together localities that may have little in common,
except for their shared interest in the major urban areas (i.e. shopping and services in Trafalgar,
Warragul, and into the neighbouring council area).
Another limitation to the VEC’s Option B is that while it keeps together land- and locality-based
communities of interest in the north, this is not the same for the southern part of the ward. The
rural farming districts in the south are split between ‘West Ward’ and ‘East Ward’—potentially
weakening a representation of interests. Finally, while the model is projected to remain viable to
2024, projected deviations indicate that ‘East Ward’ and ‘West Ward’ will be close to the 10 per
cent threshold at the time of the next review. Any unpredicted growth along the western
boundary of the Shire could necessitate a subdivision review.12
Option C – nine councillors elected from one four-councillor ward, one three-councillor
ward and one two-councillor ward
Three submissions favoured changing ward boundaries to reflect the north-south orientation in
the Shire, recommending three wards that run the full length of the Shire. Arguments in favour of
this model included easing councillor workloads in the north due to the north-south orientation of
the roads, and potentially decreasing fragmentation and provincialism by incorporating both rural
and urban areas within one ward.
12
Subdivision reviews are conducted only to adjust the location of ward boundaries within a council.
Subdivision reviews are generally required for councils where the average number of voters per councilor
in one or more wards is likely to be 10 per cent more or less than the municipality average at the next
general election.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
In response, the VEC modelled the recommendations made in Baw Baw Shire Council’s
preliminary submission, which was similar to two other submissions. As Diagram 1 indicates, this
model creates a series of wards running the full length of the Shire.
Diagram 1: north-south ward model based on Baw Baw Shire Council submission.
The VEC considered that the model has a number of strengths. The model potentially improves
the accessibility of councillors to physically access all areas of the Shire, and shares councillor
workload across the mountainous north. It also links the major urban areas with their rural
hinterlands based on a north-south orientation.
However, the VEC considered that this model also had a number of limitations that need to be
considered. For instance, while Option B splits geographic communities of interest in the south of
the Shire between an east and west ward, communities across both the north and south of the
Shire are split across all three wards in this model. Another limitation of the model is the linking
together of localities that potentially have little in common.
The VEC was also concerned about the potential for over-representation of the urban areas and
reducing the opportunity for representatives from the rural communities to be elected to the
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
Council. Currently, the major towns of Warragul and Drouin are contained in separate wards.
Under the proposed model, there is a potential for the majority of councillors to be elected from
the major urban areas, especially in the proposed ‘West Ward’ and ‘Central Ward’ where over
two thirds of voters reside in Warragul or Drouin. While the incorporation of rural and urban areas
in one ward may serve to increase awareness of the needs of all areas in the Shire, it is possible
that urban issues could dominate. In concert with divisions across geographic communities of
interest, rural representation could potentially be weakened.
Taking into account the preference for recognising north-south orientations in the Shire, and
keeping major urban areas contained in separate wards, the VEC modelled a second three ward
model. This includes a large two-councillor ward covering over two thirds of the Shire in the east
(‘North East Ward’), incorporating the urban areas of Trafalgar and Yarragon, as well as the
majority of the mountainous areas in the north, extending to Childers and Thorpdale in the South;
a four councillor ward to the west of the Shire (‘North West Ward’), which includes Drouin and
the rural areas of Noojee and Neerim in the north, extending to the southern boundary of the
Shire, taking in Ripplebrook and Drouin South; and a ward (‘Central Ward’) that includes all of
Warragul and the southern localities of Seaview and Mountain View.
This model reduces the chance of rural areas being dominated by the urban wards, as Warragul
is captured in one ward, and the ward containing Drouin increases to four councillors—
increasing the likelihood of candidates being elected outside the major urban area. The model
also places the largest number of councillors in ‘North West Ward’—the area where the highest
growth is forecast, both within the Shire and in neighbouring Cardinia. It also acknowledges the
north-south orientation requested in submissions, placing two of the major traffic corridors in
‘North East Ward’ and one in ‘North West Ward’. Importantly, projected deviations show that the
model should remain viable until the next representation review scheduled for before the 2028
general election.
The model still results in a large ward in the east, with a potentially large workload for two
councillors. Similarly, it splits communities of interest in the north and southern areas of the
Shire, albeit less than the three ward structure running the full length of the Shire.
Summary
At the last representation review, Baw Baw Shire’s electoral structure changed from nine
single-councillor wards to a multi-councillor structure, which all submissions indicated has been
beneficial for the municipality. Despite consensus on this point, Baw Baw Shire’s geographic
diversity creates the possibility for a number of multi-councillor models to be successful, each
demonstrating their own strengths and limitations. The VEC acknowledges that a number of
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
submissions demonstrated an appetite for change to current ward boundaries, particularly
introducing wards with a north-south orientation and a blend of rural and urban areas.
On balance, the VEC considers that the current model is providing fair and equitable
representation of voters and provides adequte representation for communities of interest, and
there are no extenuating circumstances for signficant change. However, all options provided in
this report are considered viable and further public feedback regarding a preferred model is
welcomed by the VEC.
4.2 Options
The VEC is required by the Act to include a preferred option and may include one or more
alternative options for the electoral structure in the preliminary report. The VEC considers that all
the options outlined below offer fair and equitable representation for voters in the municipality.
Please see Appendix 2 for detailed maps of these options.
Option A (preferred option)
Baw Baw Shire Council continue to consist of nine councillors elected from one-three
councillor ward and three two-councillor wards, with modified boundaries.
Option B (alternative option)
Baw Baw Shire Council consist of nine councillors elected from three three-councillor
wards.
Option C (alternative option)
Baw Baw Shire Council consist of nine councillors elected one four-councillor ward, one
three-councillor ward and one two-councillor ward.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
5 Next steps
5.1 Response submissions
Any person or group, including the Council, can make a submission to the VEC in response to
the options contained in this report. Response submissions to the preliminary report should
address the models proposed by the VEC within this report. Response submissions must be
received by the VEC by 5.00 pm on Wednesday 14 October. Late submissions will not be
accepted.
Submissions must include the full name, address and contact telephone number of the submitter.
Submissions without this information cannot be accepted.
Submission methods
Submissions can be made via:

the online submission form at vec.vic.gov.au

email at [email protected]

post to: Victorian Electoral Commission
Level 11, 530 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

fax to (03) 9629 8632
Public access to submissions
To ensure transparency in the electoral representation review process, all submissions will be
available for public inspection at:

the VEC website at vec.vic.gov.au and

the VEC office at Level 11, 530 Collins Street, Melbourne.
The VEC will remove personal information such as address, phone number, and signature, if
applicable, from all public copies. However, the full name and locality of submitters will be
displayed.
5.2 Public hearing
There is an opportunity for people or organisations who have made a response submission to
speak about their submission at the public hearing. The public hearing is scheduled to be held at
7.00 pm on Thursday 22 October at Baw Baw Shire Council, Council Chambers, Civic Place,
Warragul. If you wish to speak at the public hearing, you must indicate this on your response
submission. If there are no requests to speak at the hearing, it will not be held.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
5.3 Final report
Following the public hearing, the VEC considers all the evidence it has gathered and publishes a
final report for the Minister for Local Government containing a recommended electoral structure.
The report is scheduled to be published on Wednesday 11 November. Any changes resulting
from the final report will apply at the October 2016 general election.
The final report will be available from the VEC by visiting vec.vic.gov.au or calling 131 832 and
also for inspection at the offices of Baw Baw Shire Council.
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
Appendix 1: List of preliminary submissions
Preliminary submissions were received from:
Baw Baw Ratepayers and Citizens Association
Baw Baw Shire Council
William Blackburn
David Lyons
Ian Bruce McDonald (two submissions)
Proportional Representation Society of Australia (Victoria-Tasmania) Inc
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
Appendix 2: Option maps
The following maps are included in this report:
Map
Page
Option A (preferred option)
27
Option B (alternative option)
28
Option C (alternative option)
29
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
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Preliminary Report: 2015 Baw Baw Shire Council Electoral Representation Review
Appendix 3: Public information program
Advertising
In accordance with the Act,13 a public notice of review was placed in the following newspapers:

Herald Sun, Wednesday 15 July

Latrobe Valley Express, Monday 20 July

Warragul and Drouin Gazette, Tuesday 21 July

Pakenham Gazette, Wednesday 22 July
Media release
A media release was prepared and distributed to local media at the commencement of the review on
Wednesday 22 July.
Public information sessions
Public information sessions for people interested in the review process were held on Wednesday
29 July at:

Trafalgar Community Centre, 105 Princes Highway, Trafalgar

Parkview Room, West Gippsland Arts Centre, Corner of Smith & Albert Streets, Warragul
Helpline and email address
A telephone helpline and dedicated email address were established to assist members of the public
with enquiries about the review process.
VEC website
The VEC website delivered up-to-date information to provide transparency and facilitate public
participation during the first stages of the review process. An online submission tool was made
available and all public submissions were posted on the website.
Guide for Submissions
A Guide for Submissions was developed and distributed to those interested in making submissions.
Copies of the Guide were available on the VEC website, in hardcopy on request and provided to
Council.
Council website and newsletter
Information about the review was provided to Council for publication in council media, e.g. website
and newsletter.
13
Section 219F(4) of the Local Government Act 1989.
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Victorian Electoral Commission
Level 11, 530 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
131 832
[email protected]
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