Residents’ groups oppose VEC’s ward proposals for Surf Coast Shire
THE residents’ associations of Torquay, Aireys Inlet and Lorne have joined the Surf Coast Shire council in their opposition to the Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC) proposed changes in the shire’s subdivision review.
The VEC is redividing the shire’s ward boundaries to ensure everyone in the shire is equally represented, given there has been considerable population growth in Torquay since the previous council election.
By law, the number of voters per councillor in each ward must be within plus or minus 10 per cent of the average number of voters per councillor across the whole council.
However, shire councillors have taken issue with the VEC’s proposals on several fronts, including Fairhaven being moved out of Anglesea Ward into Lorne Ward, and rural and coastal towns being placed in the same ward.
The VEC held a public hearing – shifted to an online event because of the coronavirus pandemic – on Tuesday last week to allow people or organisations the opportunity to speak to their submissions to the review.
Among the submitters was the committee of the 3228 Residents Association, which stated many residents in the 3228 postcode now living in Winchelsea Ward were not properly represented.
“The councillors representing Winchelsea rarely show any interest in what is happening in Torquay/Jan Juc and their interests are more aligned with their rural communities.
As coastal residents, those in the 3228 postcode need representatives that understand coastal communities.”
In its submission, the Aireys Inlet and District Association argued that communities outside the Torquay urban area found changes to their ward boundaries were “being driven more by the growth of Torquay than the natural grouping of their communities”.
“This is particularly evident in the Aireys Inlet/Fairhaven/Moggs Creek/Eastern View area, long recognised by both its residents and Australia Post as a single cohesive area, but currently split between the Lorne and Anglesea wards.
“The VEC’s proposal exacerbates the problem, by moving Fairhaven into Lorne Ward.”
Committee for Lorne chair Ian Stewart wants no changes at all, stating “the current Lorne Ward distribution is not broken in terms of community needs; don’t fix it”.
“To apply a statistical model which determines ward boundaries based upon population distribution is a flawed model.”
The VEC will release its final report on April 8.
To read all the submissions, head to vec.vic.gov.au/reviews/SurfCoastrr.html.