MEDIA RELEASE

4 March 2020

 

Tim Quilty says Local Government Bill will increase chances of council corruption

Tim Quilty, Liberal Democrats Member for Northern Victoria, has condemned a bill which he says will make council corruption harder to deal with and which gives the major political parties a big advantage.

The bill will set up a single-member ward structure for most of the local councils in Victoria, which the Victorian Electoral Commission has recommended against adopting.

Mr Quilty says the bill is the work of the Labor and Liberal parties setting themselves up for success in October’s local elections and, during a marathon debate which lasted until 3am, it received little support among the minor party crossbenchers in the Legislative Council.

“When the Liberals and Labor get together on electoral reform, you know it’s the voters who are getting screwed,” Mr Quilty said.

“Local government is one of the biggest sources of corruption in Victoria and Australia, and it’s the independents and minor parties who bring that to light.

“Any changes are going to lock that out and we will see more corruption.”

Speaking against the bill, Mr Quilty told Parliament that the single-member ward structure will only serve the Liberal-Labor duopoly.

“To understand this change, look at the numbers in this place,” Mr Quilty said. “The Lower House uses single-member electorates and seven per cent of seats are held by minor parties.

“The Upper House uses multi-member electorates and almost 30% of seats are held by minor parties.

“What you are doing is wrong. Multi-member proportional systems deliver what the community want – even when that isn’t what the big party duopoly - Labor and the Liberals - want.”

Mr Quilty also criticised the bill’s introduction of mandatory training for candidates before they stand, calling it “box ticking rubbish”.

“Clearly many people think this sounds like a good idea, but it’s not – on at least two counts,” Mr Quilty said.

“Firstly, any training given is going to be box ticking rubbish, conducted at great expense to ratepayers, with absolutely no discernible results.

“But secondly it is a hurdle to democracy. People with real jobs or running businesses will find it harder to take time out to do training while they only have a prospect of election.

“It’s another barrier aimed at blocking those who aren’t part of the system from standing to make changes.

“Nobody doubts that local government needs reform, but this bill is just one long missed opportunity.”

Debate on the bill resumes on Thursday.

For more information, contact Graham Springett | 0408 208819