Eye on Dubbo | Where are we?

A Bit Lost: A huge percentage of people that had absolutely no idea what ward they were in – in. How to fix this, one option is to abolish the wards.
A Bit Lost: A huge percentage of people that had absolutely no idea what ward they were in – in. How to fix this, one option is to abolish the wards.

It’s been some time now since “that” council election where the people of both Dubbo and Wellington went to the polls and elected ten councillors to represent them on the new Dubbo Regional Council. 

It was that poll, people will remember as the election where confusion reigned and voters were thrown into this bizarre notion of “wards”. 

Indeed, there was a huge percentage of people that had absolutely no idea what ward they were in – in fact, a lot of people assumed they were in a different ward to what they were told on the day.

I can report to residents that representations to the State Government about our flawed voting system have so far fallen on deaf ears.  Essentially, the response from the State has been for Council to do more educating of the public.

How on earth do we educate the people of West Dubbo that they live in North, the people who live in and around Bourke Street and Dubbo North Public School that they live in East.

The people who live in and around Orana Mall and Yarrawonga that they live in South and the people who live in and around Dubbo South Public School and the South Campus of Dubbo College that they live in Central is beyond me! 

And that does not include the people of Wongarbon and Ballimore that suddenly discovered that despite being in the former Dubbo City area they are now in the Wellington Ward!

My view is that for the State to simply say we need to educate the people of our region about the changes shows real arrogance and is a classic example of “them and us” or city folk thinking they know better.

In my view we have several options. 

My personal preferred view is to have two wards. 

One ward of eight Councillors representing Dubbo and one ward of two councillors representing Wellington. 

The number of councillors would not change and Wellington would be guaranteed of representation at the Council table.

The other option is to abolish the wards and have one electoral area across the entire Local Government Area. 

But that would have the people of Wellington concerned about the representation their old shire would have on the new Council.

At the very least, the State government could allow for a more sensible naming of the wards. 

A simple system of Ward A through to E would do away with the poor naming system which is incorrect and confusing. 

The only way Council can go about changing the ward system without State government assistance is to hold a referendum of Council voters. 

Such a referendum could potentially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if held on its own. 

We have the option of having a much cheaper referendum at the next Council election but that would of course mean yet another Council would be elected under this silly ward scheme. 

The State government informs me that there is no provision to hold a referendum on the matter with the coming State or Federal elections either.

To say I am frustrated about this is an understatement. 

I am still in the motions of appealing to various politicians and government authorities in order to fix this situation – however I’m, not holding my breath!

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This story Eye on Dubbo | Ben Shields first appeared on Daily Liberal.