Stand-off means Dubbo Regional Council ward system expected to stay

ANGERED: "It is an absolute mess...this government is just not listening to the people," Councillor Vicki Etheridge said. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

ANGERED: "It is an absolute mess...this government is just not listening to the people," Councillor Vicki Etheridge said. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

The unpopular Dubbo Regional Council ward system appears to be here to stay because of a stand-off two levels of government.

Council wants the ward system to stay, but not in its current form. Instead of five wards, the council wants two - one large Dubbo ward and a smaller Wellington ward.

A spokesperson for the NSW Office of Local Government confirmed the idea repeatedly advanced by the council would only become a reality if the two wards council wanted to exist were created to be essentially the same size.

"Where a council is divided by wards, the same number of councillors must be elected for each ward," a spokesperson told Australian Community Media.

"To ensure that all votes within a local government area carry approximately the same value, the Local Government Act does not allow a disparity between the number of electors for each ward of greater than 10 per cent."

The spokesperson said if council wanted to do things like change ward names - to make them less confusing - it could do so without holding a referendum.

"A referendum is only required to divide an area into wards or to abolish all wards," the spokesperson confirmed.

Currently, the NSW government does not appear to have any plans to amend the Local Government Act to facilitate council's ward idea and council will not hold a referendum to abolish wards completely because of fears Wellington people will not be elected.

The stalemate has infuriated Councillor Vicki Etheridge, who believes the government should do what council wants.

"People don't like the wards, people should be able to vote for whoever they want...it's not very democratic," Cr Etheridge said.

"For us [council] to have a referendum it's gonna cost us a fortune.

"[The government is] forcing people to vote for people who they don't want to vote for...you might live in South Ward but might not like those candidates, you might like the ones in North."

Cr Etheridge suggested the government could easily amend the Local Government Act.

"Surely it can't be that hard," she said.

"It is an absolute mess...this government is just not listening to the people."

According to Cr Etheridge, too many political decisions were being made by capital city bureaucrats.

"Country people are different, we're far more practical and hands-on," she suggested.

Despite her frustrations with politics, Cr Etheridge confirmed she would contest the 2020 council elections.

"I've still got more work to do and I enjoy working for the people," she said.

This story 'Mess' of a system dividing Dubbo expected to stay first appeared on Daily Liberal.