Put up or shut up
CHANGE is in the air.
Voters who demanded it last October have been vindicated by the election of a historic new council leadership team and the appointment of a new shire CEO.
It follows a decade of controversy, mismanagement and waste, and a year-long State Government inquiry which has yet to report its findings.Read more
The catalyst for change was a switch to shire elections that allowed all ratepayers to vote for all candidates instead of being allowed to vote for only one or two councillors in their local area.
A second major reform was to replace poorly advertised and ill-attended ‘in person’ voting with postal ballots.
It led to the resounding defeat of an unpopular shire president and a win in the now-abolished Central Ward for former shire president Bill Manning when a new councillor quit in disgust amid shire allegations of bullying and intimidation.
Former Cr Manning was elected until 2021 but resigned on principle last year to re-contest his seat in Toodyay’s first shire-wide elections under the new rules.
He said it would “ensure greater legitimacy in the eyes of the electorate” and voters responded by re-electing him.
Three longer-serving veteran councillors declined to follow suit after claiming a legal entitlement to stay on the council until their four-year terms expire next year.
Most Toodyay ratepayers didn’t vote for any of them, including one for whom nobody voted because he stood unopposed in a now-abolished former shire electorate.
The same three councillors have since voted repeatedly to block the changes demanded by voters in more recent polls.
They helped plot last year’s extraordinary council backflip to overturn a decision not to re-employ the former shire CEO when his contract expired last July – and then tried last month to block his replacement.
They tried also to block last month’s election of a new shire president and deputy and sought instead to install two of their own with far less electoral credibility.
Some see it as a struggle between a minority rump of ‘old guard’ veteran councillors seeking to entrench their civic legacy and a new majority that owes no allegiance to former shire loyalties.
Whatever the case, ratepayers voted last year for change and have a democratic right to see it delivered.
Toodyay’s three veteran councillors will continue to lack a voter mandate until they re-contest their seats to “ensure greater legitimacy in the eyes of the electorate”.
New elections will soon provide that opportunity.