Councillor representation out of kilter in Wanneroo wards

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Population trends in the City of Wanneroo, which are forecast to continue, have led to an imbalance between the number of councillors representing North Coast ward and South ward electors. File picture

THE City of Wanneroo is conducting a ward review as there is currently an imbalance between the number of councillors representing its North Coast ward and South ward electors.

The imbalance means North Coast ward electors are being under-represented while South ward electors are being over-represented.

According to an officer’s report presented to the council on September 22 the main factor the Local Government Advisory Board considers important is balanced councillor and elector ratios with a deviation of plus or minus 10 per cent in ratios generally considered acceptable.

At June 30 the Western Australian Electoral Commission said the city had 125,084 electors.

The officer’s report said based on WAEC data the five North Coast ward councillors represented 49,969 electors with a councillor to elector ratio of 1:9994 giving a ratio deviation of minus 11.22 per cent.

In the South ward five councillors represent 39,659 electors with a councillor to elector ratio of 1:7932 giving a ratio deviation of plus 11.73 per cent.

Modelling undertaken showed maintaining the current ward system with existing councillor representation would in 2024 result in a ratio deviation of minus 14.48 per cent in the North Coast ward and a ratio deviation of plus 14.74 per cent in the South ward.

By 2028 maintaining the current ward system with existing councillor representation would result in a ratio deviation of minus 20.27 per cent in the North Coast ward and a ratio deviation of plus 21.13 per cent in the South ward.

The city’s ward review could result in changes such as adjusting how many councillors represent a ward, increasing the number of wards or removing ward boundaries altogether.

Or the city may decide to not make any changes to its current three-ward-system as it has been advised by the board it is not due to complete its next legislative review until 2023.

Members of the public who want to make a submission on the ward review can also provide feedback on the number of councillors elected to represent them keeping in mind section 2.17 of the Local Government Act 1995 requires that each council where a mayor is elected by electors, is to consist of the mayor and a minimum of five and maximum of 14 councillors.

In the City of Wanneroo the community is represented by the mayor and 14 councillors.

To help the community make a submission the city has released a discussion paper – advertised on the city’s website – which provides ward options and examples.

The discussion paper shows the city’s three-ward system is the same as local governments with smaller numbers of electors such as Belmont (24,727 electors) and Cockburn (73,738 electors).

In comparison councils with a similar numbers of electors to Wanneroo such as Joondalup (112,041 electors) and Stirling ((146,885) have a bigger number of wards – Stirling has seven wards and Joondalup has six wards but two fewer councillors.

The current North Coast ward suburbs are Alkimos, Butler, Clarkson, Eglinton, Jindalee, Merriwa, Mindarie-Tamala Park, Quinns Rocks, Ridgewood, Two Rocks and Yanchep.