Almost half new faces following local elections

By Adam Coleman

Counting has been completed in the Victorian local elections with 321 re-elected councillors to be met with 309 new faces to local government.

According to Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) CEO, Rob Spence almost 70 per cent of incumbents who contested the elections were returned, but due to the retirement of 173 councillors, 49 per cent of those taking office will be new councillors.

“Twenty mayors were defeated. For half the mayors who lost, this occurred in spite of most other incumbent councillors being returned. This trend may reflect that being a mayor in an election year, and the public profile that accompanies the role, can make you a target for community unrest at the ballot box,” he said.

Mr Spence said there was a lack of support for incumbents in the areas of Ballarat, Baw Baw, Greater Bendigo, Macedon Ranges, Melbourne, Mitchell, Nillumbik or Wodonga where four or more contesting councillors were defeated.

“We will see a majority of new councillors in more than a third of Victoria’s 79 municipalities following a high number of retirements in some areas, and heavy losses to incumbents in other councils,” he said.

“The municipalities of Ballarat, Campaspe, Colac Otway, East Gippsland, Frankston, Greater Bendigo, Macedon Ranges, Manningham and Melbourne will each have six new councillors.”

One dissapointing outcome of the elections is a downward trend in women councillors with female participation declining from 30.5 per cent of all councillors to 29.8 per cent.

“This is partly due to 40 per cent of incumbent female councillors retiring. There are now 188 women councillors and five all-male councils," Mr Spence said.

“Previously Ballarat and Gannawarra had no female councillors. Ballarat has gained three in this election but Gannawarra, Cardinia, Hindmarsh, Moorabool and Pyrenees will be all-male councils.

“There was also a failed election in Pyrenees Shire, where one ward attracted no candidates. A by-election will be held shortly,” he said.

One big name to miss out in the elections is former MAV president Dick Gross who lost in Port Phillip’s Junction Ward to the Greens’ John Middleton

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