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Council acknowledges outcome of Ward Boundary Review
June 3, 2024

Wellington Shire Council acknowledges Minister for Local Government, The Hon Melissa Horne MP’s recent announcement that changes to ward boundaries in Wellington Shire have been accepted, in line with recommendations from the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). The changes do not come into effect immediately, aligning with the upcoming Council general election in October.

The Minister has approved the Final Report by the VEC, which details updated ward boundaries for Wellington Shire Council’s Central, Coastal, and Northern wards. The review aimed to ensure fair voter representation across the Shire’s diverse communities.

The outcome of the ward boundary review is adjustments to all three ward boundaries. The main impact is that the Coastal Ward is expanded to include Longford and Rosedale. Some communities north of the Princes Highway, including Denison and Nambrok, will also now be included in the Coastal Ward.

In a submission to the Victorian Government’s Ward Boundary Review Panel in March, Wellington Shire Council CEO David Morcom shared that a drawback of the proposed change was that the northern part of the proposed Coastal Ward will include areas that are some distance from southern coastal communities.

Mr Morcom went on to say “the Commission needs to be aware that rural farming communities like Nambrok and Denison (part of the Northern Ward) use adjacent towns (under 10kms) like Heyfield and Maffra for shopping, health services, schools and so on. To effectively force these communities into the Coastal Ward, where their ward Councillor is now likely to be over 80kms away in Yarram, is in contrast toa ‘community of interest’.”

Despite this, Council acknowledges the efforts made by the VEC to balance the complexities involved in redefining boundaries to allow for equal voter numbers across wards.

Council also recognises the challenges a municipality like Wellington poses, particularly regarding the inclusion of Nambrok and Denison in the Coastal Ward and the reallocation of Longford to the Coastal Ward, it acknowledges the necessity of adhering to the Government’s policy directives.

One of the challenges in balancing voter numbers across Wellington Shire’s wards is the high number of non-resident ratepayers between The Honeysuckles and Paradise Beach. Recent changes to council-based voting entitlements under the Local Government Act 2020 mean that there is an increased level of uncertainty about how many eligible ratepayers will choose to enrol in this area.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor, Cr Ian Bye said, “we understand the difficult task the Victorian Electoral Commission faced in reflecting our diverse communities of interest within the new boundaries. While we had concerns about specific changes, we appreciate the Commission’s efforts to achieve the best possible outcome under the current legislative framework.”

Cr Bye emphasised that the new boundaries must align with the requirement to keep changes to voter numbers within the legislated +/-10% range, and Council is prepared to work within the updated ward boundaries.

For more information on the new ward boundaries, residents are encouraged to visit the Victorian Electoral Commission’s website.

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