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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Constitutional referendum/poll for LG elections for Byron Shire?

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Hans Lovejoy

Byron Shire Council staff have advised, in the upcoming agenda, that ‘Council may conduct a Constitutional referendum or poll in conjunction with the Local Government Election, to be held in September 2021’.

According to the report, this means that electors can be given options to vote to divide a Council area into wards or abolish wards, change the method of electing the mayor, change the number of councillors, and change the method of election for councillors where the Council’s area is divided into wards. (All are defined under section 16 of the Local Government Act 1993).

Additionally, ‘Section 14 of the Act states: “A Council may take a poll of electors for its information and guidance on any matter”.’

Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter. Photo Hans Lovejoy

Cr Alan Hunter told The Echo, ‘The issue raises the question of whether Byron Shire has the right structure to provide our community the best service, and if it needs changing or not?’

‘My question is why would a small shire want to incur the cost for something that won’t make any difference to how we currently manage the Shire? I don’t think shifting the deck chairs will make one ounce of difference to Council’s performance.

‘Voters have to think hard about who we vote for, rather than how many [councillors] or how we vote for the Council team.

Satisfaction below benchmark

‘According to the recent survey in the Byron Shire, only 42 per cent of those who contacted Council had their issue resolved after the first contact, and the overall satisfaction with Council’s management was well below the Local Government benchmark.

‘This is shameful. We need to be concentrating on getting our core business right rather than looking to change the way councillors are organised.

‘We need Councillors who can embrace change and focus on Council management and services, as currently there is an overriding opinion in the community that our Council isn’t easy to do business with’.

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