The Barossa Council has made a final decision on its future composition as part of its Elector Representation Review process.
After consideration of its independent advice, along with the written and verbal submissions, Council resolved at its 18 October meeting that the principal member of Council would continue to be a Mayor elected by the community; that the Council area would retain the existing “no-wards” structure to ensure all Elected Members were representative of the whole community; and that the future elected body of Council would continue to comprise 11 area councillors and a Mayor.
The Elector Representation Review is required under the Local Government Act 1999 and takes place about every eight years to ensure all electors in the Council area are fairly and adequately represented.
Elected Members were assisted in the process by independent consultant C.L. Rowe and Associates who analysed the arguments for having a Mayor or a Chairperson as the principal Council member and a ward or no-wards structure; and also provided criteria to determine the appropriate number of Elected Members for the Barossa district. The analysis was made available for a second round of community consultation for four weeks during August/September.
The consultation resulted in eight written submissions and three petitions of 155 signatures. Those who had provided written submissions were invited to speak to Council at its October meeting. A number of petitioners were also invited to speak at the meeting. The Council thanks those community members who took time to respond in writing and to the two community members who attended the meeting to address Council.
Ms Bev Morris, as a co-signatory on the petitions, presented one of the verbal submissions and sought a ward structure with a nominated councillor so that the residents of Eden Valley and Springton may be better represented. She also asked Council to consider changes to meeting times to improve community participation. Ms Sandra Semmler also presented a verbal submission and reiterated her preference for no wards, a Mayor and 11 Elected Members who represented the whole of the community.
It should be noted that due to the complexities of a quota system under a ward structure and the local government elections process, a ward structure would not guarantee a specific location or town would achieve direct representation with its own Elected Member – whereas the no-wards system would deliver 11 area Elected members and a Mayor to represent the whole Barossa community.
While the Elected Members were clear that they did not want to divide the community into a ward system, they discussed other ways of improved communication to represent the whole of the Barossa - such as through the rotation of Council meetings and workshops throughout Barossa townships.
The Council’s decision will now be referred to the Electoral Commissioner SA for a final determination.