MRC will hold referendum to abolish ward boundaries

By Charmayne Allison

MURRAY River Council will hold a referendum at the 2020 local government elections to determine whether it should eliminate ward boundaries.

Council first raised the issue at its September meeting when it resolved to make a submission to the NSW Electoral Commission to become an undivided local government area.

Meaning it would abolish the Greater Murray, Greater Wakool and Moama wards of the sprawling electorate.

MRC is currently required to keep the boundaries of its three wards under review to ensure a difference in elector numbers of no greater than 10 per cent exists.

If a variation of more than 10 per cent remains at the end of the first year of the next term of a council - in the case of MRC, September 2021 - it must resolve to alter ward boundaries prior to the next general election.

From October this year, MRC's ward boundaries had a variation of 14.28 per cent.

Leading council to move to eliminate wards entirely.

“I'm glad we're putting this back in the hands of the public,” Cr Gen Campbell said.

“I think it's very fair for ratepayers to vote on this decision.”

But Cr Tom Weyrich was not so convinced.

“Without wards we could end up with nine councillors from Moama,” he argued.

“We don't want to alienate more rural constituents.

“When I was in Murray Shire I was against wards but I've matured. What we have now is not ideal, but it's better than getting rid of wards entirely.”

However, Cr Campbell argued some councils that had amalgamated actually had more councillors from rural areas than from the main towns.

“And if we want to be unified, we need to be unified,” she said.

“Otherwise our council area will just become more fractured and divided.”

Council voted for the the resolution, with only Cr Weyrich voting against.