Archive:   2008 Council Elections

Last Updated  29/3/10



See also MRRS Ltd Noticeboard

See also Council Election Main Page

See also Riddells Creek Sustainability Group Surveys East Ward Candidates




Planning Backlash Affiliates Successful At 2008 Council Elections

(21/2/09 - C)  Well done! 

Click here for details



2008 Macedon Ranges Council Election:  Preference Distribution

(16/12/08 - C)  See how the Councillors got elected

If you are wondering how some Councillors got elected, or how some candidates didn't, you should probably take a look at how the preferences were distributed to get the results we did.  These tables, from the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), are complex but if you stick at it, some of it WILL make sense.  Promise.  Click for the East ward table, South ward table, West ward table.  These are Excel files, formatted for A4 printing which will result in 4 pages for East and West wards, and 6 pages for South ward.  If you would like A3 copies (single page for East and West wards, 2 pages for South), please contact MRRA on


Last Council  Meeting Of 2008 : Wednesday 17th December, 7.00 pm, Woodend Community Centre

(16/12/08 - C)  Go along and watch the new council at work... Braemar is on the agenda

Residents can catch a glimpse of their new Council at work this Wednesday as the last Council meeting of 2008 rolls out at the Community Centre, cnr Forest Street and High Street, Woodend.


An application for Council to request the Minister for Planning to extend the time for Braemar to prepare an amendment to put its new school on the side of Golf Course Hill in Woodend is on the meeting agenda.



There's Change In The Air In Macedon Ranges As Letchford Becomes Mayor With Guthrie As Deputy

(16/12/08 - C)  Who would have thunk it!

After years of being on Council without more than a lone run as Deputy Mayor way back when, last Wednesday, after Rob Guthrie moved and Henry McLaughlin seconded a motion (which also gained support from Joan Donovan and Neil Manning), John Letchford was elected Macedon Ranges' Mayor for 2009. 


Helen Relph was also nominated for Mayor, and gained support from Joe Morabito, Henryka Benson and Roger Jukes, but was defeated.  Helen was then nominated for Deputy Mayor but was again defeated when a motion moved by Joan Donovan, seconded by Neil Manning and supported by John Letchford and Henry McLaughlin saw Rob Guthrie elected to fill the Deputy position.


MRRA Says:


It's a good start, and it signals a break with the past we believe many residents will welcome.  Well done to those who lived up to community expectations for a new direction in Council, and supported this change. 


We hear the 5 votes to 4 result surprised the 'Relph camp', but let's hope they take it in their stride and move on to more important matters.   Equally, let's hope the change in thinking that this change in leadership should represent is delivered.  Our expectation is for a more open, more accountable, more consultative, more equitable, more financially responsible and more visionary era.



Election Of Macedon Ranges' Mayor On Wednesday 10th:  Will It Signal A New Era?

(10/12/08 - C)  Dear God, bless this Shire with an independent Mayor who hasn't sold their soul to get there...

This Wednesday 10th December, at 7.00pm at the Shire offices in Gisborne (Robertson St), history could be made.  Macedon Ranges Shire might, just might, elect a Mayor on merit.  Unlike last term, where the successive Mayors over the term were stitched up within days of the election, can we hope that this time someone who deserves it could get the nod? 


There are two Councillors who between them have served 5 terms and have never been Mayor:  Rob Guthrie and John Letchford.  Rob Guthrie has put his hand up several times, but the pre-ordained winner always won and he missed out.  John Letchford was Deputy Mayor in an earlier term. 


In comparison, Helen Relph, a relative newcomer with only 1 term and 1 year up her sleeve, was Mayor in 2007.


MRRA Says:


Voters have sent a firm message - out with the old, bring in the new.  New faces, new thinking, new priorities, new ways of doing things.


Macedon Ranges Shire needs a forward-thinking person as Mayor - think 2050 not 1950 - who also has the requisite knowledge and experience to bring the council together in the first year, always the most difficult time as new councillors hit a steep learning curve.


The drums are saying Helen Relph wants to be Mayor again but, with all respect to Helen, in MRRA's view the Shire needs someone with a broader understanding of the big picture, community values and contemporary issues to have a go.  In selecting a Mayor, MRRA believes Council must show a new maturity and demonstrate to the community that it can move forward, not just stay in the same place it has been in recent years. In this regard, we believe Guthrie and Letchford have earned a seat at the Mayoral table. 


One of the key things that this new council must deliver is a different direction - a different culture - to that which the electorate has so comprehensively rejected. The opportunity to not only change, but be seen to change, is available now that some of the more dominating personalities of the past are gone.  One regret with the election outcome is the defeat of Tom Gyorffy, who spent much of his time as Councillor trying to lift the Council's sights above mediocrity, party politics, in-fighting and personal agendas. 


MRRA also believes the Mayor's role needs to be redefined from what it presently is assumed to be, something we put before the last Council as part of MRRA's presentation on Councillor allowances.  A Mayor should be the Shire's formal representative and leader of the Council group not, for example, Chairman of the Board, social director and publicity officer.  For too long the role of Mayor has seemed to be treated as a series of photo and public relations opportunities, at times giving an impression of having been crafted to suit the interests of the incumbent.  Community too must review its expectations of a Mayor.  It is not, and should not be, a full time job.  Hey guys, this is rural Macedon Ranges, not the City of Melbourne!!  Trimming the role back to where it's within reach of Councillors who work during the day would boost participatory democracy. 


The practice of a few players playing keepings-off with the Mayoralty must also end.  Ample doses of democratic thinking must be injected into the Town Hall to flush out the taint of dictatorship and executive decision-making that has plagued and tarnished our Councils over time.


Councillors, take a deep breath...  your moment in history has come.  Tonight is about more than hands in the air. It's about meeting community expectations for a Council that puts broad community interests first and operates openly, accountably and democratically.  It's about hope, and positive change, and the future.  It's about a new era, a new direction, for Macedon Ranges Shire.  The first step on this momentous journey is electing the right Mayor for the job.



STOP PRESS   No Change After West Ward Recount:  Original Result To Stand, Noel Harvey Loses

(3/12/08 - C)  Attempts to get changed outcome fail - Henryka Benson is successful candidate

After a drama-ridden 24 hours, the original outcome of the weekend's election for West ward in Macedon Ranges will stand.  That means (in order of election) that Roger Jukes, Neil Manning and Henryka Benson are the new West ward councillors.


Earlier today, hastily gathered scrutineers converged on the VEC Melbourne headquarters in Flinders Street for the 11 am start of re-entering 8,222 ballot papers into computers for a recount of votes and preferences.  After all of that, two alterations were made:  a formal vote for Noel Harvey was declared informal, and an informal vote for Noel Harvey was declared formal.  NO CHANGE in other words.


MRRA Says:

Well, it sort of restores faith in the system, doesn't it? 


It will certainly be different without Mr. Harvey looming larger than life in the Council chamber.  The new councillors will now embark on a 4 year term, assuming of course that they stay the course.


With 6 new councillors, Macedon Ranges Shire has one of the largest turnovers in the State.  Let's hope it makes for positive change, particularly when it comes to protecting Macedon Ranges from becoming suburbia.



STOP PRESS  Noel Harvey Challenges Result In West Ward, First Informal Votes, Now Full Recount Of Votes

(2/12/08 - C)  Seems no stone to be left unturned to get Noel re-elected

It is understood that Noel Harvey, the former Mayor who failed to be re-elected on Sunday, is quoted in local newspapers as 'accepting' the result.  However, some might conclude that his actions speak louder than his words, as in the last 24 hours Mr. Harvey seems to have pulled out all the stops to be re-elected by challenging results in West ward. 


Three new councillors were elected in West ward, where two re-contesting sitting councillors were defeated (Harvey, Gyorffy). Those elected were Roger Jukes, Neil Manning and Mr. Harvey's fellow Labor party affiliate, Henryka Benson. 


Just before results of the 2008 Macedon Ranges Shire Council election were to be declared at 4.00pm yesterday, word came that a review of informal votes in West ward would be held this morning (Tuesday).  It seems the Melbourne VEC office called the review, apparently after a request initiated by Mr. Harvey. 


Declaration of results for East and South ward went ahead yesterday, and are official, while West ward remained in limbo pending the review of informal votes. 


The point of contention was that after the election of Roger Jukes, Tom Gyorffy had only 2 fewer votes than Henryka Benson and was eliminated, his preferences then electing Neil Manning.  On the other hand, if more formal votes are found for Mr. Gyorffy, Ms. Benson would be eliminated first and her preferences would instead elect Noel Harvey, hence the review of informal votes to try to find more formal votes for Mr. Gyorffy. 


If Mr. Harvey was elected on Ms. Benson's preferences, then either Mr. Gyorffy or Mr. Manning would be elected as the third Councillor. 


However at the review of informal votes today, no additional formal votes were found for Mr. Gyorffy, and the original results stood. 


Mr. Harvey then lodged a formal request for a recount of votes, and although it is understood this found little favour locally, the recount has been ordered to go ahead by the VEC Melbourne office, in Melbourne tomorrow.  A full re-keying of votes and recount will occur, at what is believed to be substantial cost to Macedon Ranges ratepayers - thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars.


MRRA Says:


After all of that, it seems reasonable to say Mr. Harvey might not accept the decision at all.  It is also troubling that the Melbourne VEC office seems to be playing a leading role in accepting and acceding to Mr. Harvey's objections, particularly as we understand that Mr. Gyorffy does accept the outcome and does not support Mr. Harvey's actions. 


What is there at stake that would be worth making such a mockery of democracy?


Given Mr. Harvey's publicly-acknowledged Labor party connections, and his recent support for getting rid of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, could there be more happening here than meets the eye?  Is the hand of Spring Street involved?


Attention Newly Elected Councillors: Changes You Need To Be Aware Of

(28/11/08 - O)  VLGA advice on things you need to know, and announcement of VLGA tally room for election count 

The Victorian Local Governance Association says:


If you are elected as a Councillor at the next election, there are some legislative changes that you should be aware of straight away. Many of these require you to make new disclosures within days of being elected … so please read this information carefully!


These changes come from the Local Government Amendment (Councillor Conduct and Other Matters) Bill 2008 which was passed by the Parliament on 11 November 2008 which I’ve talked about before.


Immediate changes which will affect newly elected Councillors in your first days in office include:


We have listed easy to understand information from Local Government Victoria about the above changes on the New Councillor

 Resources – Hitting The Ground Running! section of our website.


We also received further advice late yesterday about Councillor Allowances and Support which you might want to read on our website.


VLGA Tally Room

The VLGA will run our usual Tally Room on Saturday night and on Sunday. Our staff have been busy behind the scenes tallying all of the preference arrangements for each election, so after we know the first preference counts, we expect to be among the first to be able to ‘call election results’.  For more information, see our website.


Out-Going Mayor Tries To Snatch Macedon Ranges' Million For Kyneton Pool

(25/11/08 - C)  Just as MRRA predicted, this white elephant will consume all of the resources of the Shire  


Today's Leader newspaper has the following article. 


"Grant fills Kyneton pool fund

25 Nov 08 @ 07:00am by Barry Kennedy


CONSTRUCTION of a new indoor pool in Kyneton could begin in months after almost $1 million in federal funding was set aside for Macedon Ranges Council.


Macedon Ranges Mayor Noel Harvey, who attended last week’s inaugural Australian Council of Local Government meeting in Canberra, said the windfall provided a golden opportunity to build the pool.


“The sort of infrastructure projects that the Government is interested in seeing are ones where state and local government funding plans are already in place,” Cr Harvey said.


Under the funding, the council is entitled to $947,000 - part of a $300 million national stimulus package - but projects must be started by next September.


“Pools, sporting centres and libraries were the talk of all the mayors at the meeting and the message from the Prime Minister was to get spending now,” Cr Harvey said.


Part of the funding package allows for councils to bid for a share of $50 million for major strategic projects where at least $2 million of Commonwealth assistance was available.


Macedon Ranges Council’s 2008-09 budget provided for borrowing $3 million for the indoor pool, with five tenders since received. The pool total cost was estimated at $8.7 million in September 2007, with the State Government set aside $2.5 million for it in 2006.


But the pool has divided council opinion after seeing the Gisborne Aquatic Centre built in 2005 consistently run at a loss, including $270,000 in its first year.


Lancefield ratepayer David Kemp said he believed the Kyneton indoor pool was now a sure thing. “The east of the shire is consistently ignored,” he said.


“I don’t mind the pool getting built, but it’s only Kyneton residents who’ll use it so they should have their own rate surcharge, especially when it starts losing money.”


But outgoing West Ward councillor John Connor warned the pool would not go ahead if the new council opposed the plan. He said there were many anti-pool candidates standing in this month’s council election.


The present Kyneton pool is outdoor and was built more than 50 years ago."


MRRA Says:


 Is it just us being a bit touchy, or is this arrogance? 


If the article quotes correctly, it's almost as if the rest of the Shire doesn't exist in some people's minds.  And if candidates who share this high-handed type of attitude and thinking are elected to Council, the rest of us will be expected to just get used to it. 


Wonder if the other councillors were consulted about what the money would be spent on?  Will the new Council be?  We know the community wasn't... 


How opportune to receive this much money at this point in time.  Lucky old Macedon Ranges, having a Mayor who it also seems is Vice President of the Kyneton branch of the ALP* lobbying on our behalf with the Federal Labor government...  


Note:  Final guidelines about what the money can be applied to have now been published by the Federal government but they do not, as earlier mooted, exclude projects for which funding has already been budgetted.  


*  From the Kyneton ALP Branch website, 25/11/08 :


of the


Office Holders   Meetings
President: Eric Dearricott   Fourth Tuesday each month
Secretary: Margaret Dearricott 150 Mollison St.
Treasurer: Mark Ridgeway Kyneton
Vice President: Noel Harvey Starting at 8:00pm
Ass. Secretary: Henryka Benson Visitors Welcome
E-Mail Contact: To the Secretary



Local Government Victoria's Interpretation Of "Misleading and Deceptive" Suggests Loophole In Legislation

(24/11/08 - P)   How do you trust what people say?

A resident has sent MRRA a copy of a response they received to a complaint made about MRRS Ltd.  It relates to Section 55A of the Local Government Act which provides that a person must not print, publish or distribute, any matter or thing that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of the vote of the voter.  If you thought this means a candidate can't tell porkies about themselves to get you to vote for them, it seems you would be wrong.  For a complaint to be valid, "electoral material has to mislead or deceive in relation to the actual act of voting, not in relation to a voter arriving at a decision about for whom to vote."  Which no doubt leaves voters wondering if there is any protection for them against those who bend the truth in an election campaign.  From this, apparently not or at best only in a limited way.  Is that good enough?



Riddells Creek Sustainability Group Surveys East Ward Candidates

(20/11/08 - E) " Vote For Sustainability": responses to sustainability issues

Riddells Creek Sustainability Group has sent a questionnaire to East ward candidates inviting them to commit to sustainability goals, actions and advocacy in Macedon Ranges Shire.  Several candidates have responded, and you can read all about it by going to the RC Sustainability Group's website at


Complaint Against MRRA Made To VEC

(19/11/08 - C)  "Misleading and defamatory statements"

MRRA has been advised that a complaint has been made to the Victorian Electoral Commission [VEC] claiming the Association has made 'misleading and defamatory' statements.  The complaint has now been referred to Local Government Victoria.  No details have been provided or information about what is considered 'misleading and defamatory', or who made the complaint, only that we may hear from Local Government Victoria in relation to this matter.


MRRS Ltd 'Fair Go Independents' Clock Up Another $10,000 For 3 More Full Page, Full Colour Ads In Local Papers?

(19/11/08 - M)  Where's all the money coming from?  Is 'Fair Go' a clue?

This week's local newspapers are again graced by full page, full colour ads featuring MRRS Ltd affiliates, this time claiming to be 'Fair Go  independents'. 


The ads feature 8 Council election candidates - Boegel, Elliott and Shepherd (South ward), Peeler, Drago and Wilson (West ward) and Hackett and Nothard (East ward), leaving no doubt that all are part of the same 'team'. 


There are also two other 'team' players in South ward that are not shown in the ad - Wiedermann and Jeske, both directors of MRRS Ltd - and all five MRRS Ltd South ward candidates are reportedly sporting the same text on one side of their handouts that implies that the candidate named on the other side is part of a 'group' called "Ratepayers and Residents of the Macedon Ranges Shire".


MRRA has also raised the question of whether Morabito in East ward is affiliated.  


An intriguing feature of the full page, full colour ads is the reference to 'fair go', which residents may remember was the catch-cry of land holders and real estate agents who participated in some meetings, the first initiated in 2005 by Keatings Real Estate of Woodend.  The purpose of the meetings seemed to be to pressure Councillors into allowing landowners to subdivide and put houses on lots in rural zoned land.  The meetings attracted like-minded people from outside Macedon Ranges Shire, and it was from these meetings that the Macedon Ranges Landowners [MRLO] group was born.  See MRRA's reports on these meetings. 


MRLO recently sent a letter to all candidates, which includes the following:


"It has been our view, despite some understandable reservations, that the Macedon Ranges Landowners Committee should refrain from seeking to hector or bully the Council, not to say individual Councilors, in advancing the interests of our constituents."  


The letter seems to announce that MRLO is a player in this election and, based on past performances, that its aims and methods of operating don't seem to have changed. 


MRRA's candidate survey picked up those candidates who support more development/subdivision in rural land, with several nominating 5 acres as a 'good' size.  This seems to correspond with the aspirations of the Macedon Ranges Landowners group, as embodied in a motion from 30 May 2007, calling for no permits for houses on rural lots of 1.6ha or more.


Is MRRS Ltd 'affiliated with or supported by' Macedon Ranges Landowners group and real estate agents?  Is that where the money - the buckets of money - coming from?  Who is paying the bills?


MRRA Says:


After checking advertising rates for local papers, we estimate that this week's ads alone would have cost MRRS Ltd around $10,000 (and these certainly aren't the only full page ads that have appeared).  In comparison, our Association's total spending on newspaper ads and printing costs has been a fraction of that amount - it's all we could afford. 


It's not just the money.  It's the whole tenor of the campaign.  Independents?  There seems to be a cashed-up 'ticket' running here, and the published 'ticket' still doesn't disclose all affiliated candidates that are running.  But preferencing seems to.


What type of democracy do we have if it turns out that 'big money' can buy it, and use it for its own purposes?  


As always, we welcome comment.  Send us your thoughts on


Do you think MRRS Ltd has been open and honest with the electorate? 


Do you think candidates affiliated with a company should be able to run for council, and not have to identify the company or declare that interest?



MRRS Ltd, East Ward:  Is Morabito The Missing Man?

(16/11/08 - C)  Have two MRRS Ltd affiliates slipped under MRRA's radar?

West Ward:  When MRRA interviewed West ward candidate Joan Drago as part of our candidate survey, like other candidates surveyed, she was asked if she was affiliated with or supported by MRRS Ltd.  Ms Drago said she wasn't.  MRRA accepted her statement at face value and did not identify her as affiliated with MRRS Ltd.  However, Ms Drago is swapping preferences with candidates (Wilson, Peeler) who told MRRA they were affiliated with MRRS Ltd.  In addition, Ms Drago is listed with Peeler and Wilson on MRRS Ltd's West ward caravan, and shares the MRRS Ltd signage "livery".  We now believe Ms Drago should have been identified as having an affiliation with MRRS Ltd.



East Ward: 

When MRRA invited East ward candidate Joe Morabito to participate in its candidate survey, Mr. Morabito responded by saying he would answer our questions if MRRA answered his in front of the editors of local newspapers.  As Mr. Morabito, not MRRA, is a candidate, MRRA declined to accede to Mr. Morabito's demands, and he was listed in MRRA's Star Ratings as 'did not participate in survey'.  Mr. Morabito advised MRRA he would be brutal, would go hard against anyone who bad-mouthed him.  MRRA does not appreciate bullying nor does it consider putting facts before the public to be 'bad-mouthing'.


Mr. Morabito is swapping preferences with MRRS Ltd affiliates, and as with Ms Drago, seems to share MRRS Ltd signage "livery". 


Our apologies for any offensiveness in these signs - several at Riddells Creek (where these photographs were taken) have been defaced.


The East ward MRRS Ltd caravan, however, shows only two candidates, with a third space left blank.  There are unconfirmed reports of a disagreement amongst MRRS Ltd affiliates.     


MRRA's question to Mr. Morabito is:  Are you the MRRS Ltd "missing man"?



The MRRS Ltd Circus Comes To Town

(14/11/08 - C)  Rootin', tootin', in-your-face and OTT?  flags, big top, flyers, badges, trailers, posters, signs, caravans, colour-everything and lollies for kiddies. Crikey - seems the only things missing are the fat lady, sword swallower, calliope and clowns!!

The MRRS Ltd "Fair Go" Tent and the Vote 111 caravan in Gisborne. Apparently they are full of "independents" (see sign at rear)...  Fair Go?  Fair Go?  Isn't that the slogan the Macedon Ranges Landowners group and real estate agents use to yell about getting houses on rural zoned land?  This photo was taken before MRRS Ltd were apparently asked to move on - the story doing the rounds is it seems no permission had been given to park there.


Yes, you could be forgiven for thinking there's a presidential election on instead of a more humble Council one when the MRRS Ltd circus pulled into Gisborne recently.  It seems no expense whatsoever has been spared trying to sell the message to voters that this company is fair dinkum / ridgee-didge / grass-roots / independent / community.  Sky writing wouldn't surprise.  The Australian flag is... um... a nice touch.  Yep, definitely impressive even if no-one can work out why it's there... 


Mmm...  anyone else think a bit of plush red carpet (or better yet, an afghan rug!!) could do wonders pulling the overall colour scheme together?




MRRA Says:


We understand there's one of these 'three-ringers' in each ward.  With a spending frenzy like this, doesn't it make you wonder what type of financial management MRRS Ltd would bring to Council?  Is this the type of frivolous, wasteful, self-serving, whacking-a-walnut-with-a-sledgehammer stuff our rates would be spent on?


Surely MRRS Ltd must have splurged close to a six figure sum by now?  Whatever, it's a lot (and you don't have to be a Rhodes' scholar to work out it's more than other candidates are spending).   Seems the company thinks there's enough to gain by running a mega-budget like this to get there.  Is it just us, or is there something party political about it?  Then again, looking at the mistakes that are being made, perhaps not.  Clue: there's a fairly obvious clanger in the above photo.  See if you can pick what it is...


For anyone who genuinely loves this place the way it is, what MRRS Ltd apparently has in mind is chilling.  And after the 'Fair Go' slogan bobbing up, we have to ask are the Landowners group and real estate agents also involved? 


From what we've been able to pick up about this public company's aims, it apparently has a 50 to 100 year 'long-term' plan for Macedon Ranges, some features of which would appear to be:

 Our concern is that if this is what MRRS Ltd. is really about, voters aren't being told about it.


MRRA believes that what appears to be the MRRS Ltd vision for Macedon Ranges isn't one that most want or share.  Let's hope that the circus and its followers are soon forced to pack up and move on...


Macedon Ranges' Council Election Preferences:  Where Candidates' Preferences Are Going

(14/11/08 - C)  A bit of analysis on where candidates' are sending their preferences reveals some clear allegiances, and some equally clear divides.  White hats and black hats, anyone?

Can you remember how, in the old cowboy movies, the 'good' guys always wore white hats, and the 'baddies' always wore black?  It's starting to look that clearly divided in this Council election, if an analysis of candidates' preferencing sent to MRRA is right.  According to our 'analyst', based on where they are sending their preferences, candidates in all three wards fall roughly into 3 groups.  The patterns speak for themselves, although it's worth keeping in mind that while plenty of preference deals are done, candidates don't always have a say over where other candidates 'preference' them (which is another story for a later date!).  You can find all candidates' preferences at the VEC website at


Here's what's happening in Macedon Ranges:


Read down the column in the following table to see in what order candidates sent their preferences to other candidates (where for example, 5 means fifth preference, 11 means last).  Read across the row to see what order of preferences each candidate received from other candidates.  For example, reading down the column, Joe Morabito has sent his second preferences to Eric Nothard (2), and his third preference to Graham Hackett (3) and so on.  Reading across the row, Mr. Morabito didn't get any second preferences, but got third preferences from Graham Hackett (3) and Eric Nothard (3), and so on.

 East Hackett Northard Morabito McLaughlin Neil Bleeck McGregor Testa Donovan Tighe Roberts
 Donovan 8 8 9 5 2 3 10 4 1 3 3
 Testa 5 7 5 11 11 8 11 1 7  5 4
 McGregor 9 9 8 3 7 7 1 8 10  6 9
 Tighe 7 5 6 10 8 6 2 3 3  1 2
 Roberts 6 6 7 7 3 5 3 2 2  2 1
 Nothard 2 1 2 9 10 11 4 9 9 9 10
 Hackett 1 2 3 4 9 10 5 6 8 8 11
 Neil 10 11 10 6 1 4 6 10 6 11 7
 Morabito 3 3 1 8 4 9 7 11 11 10 8
Bleeck 11 10 11 2 5 1 8 7 4 4 6
McLaughlin 4 4 4 1 6 2 9 5 5 7 5



Read down the column in the following table to see in what order candidates sent their preferences to other candidates (where for example, 5 means fifth preference, 14 means last).  Read across the row to see what order of preferences each candidate received from other candidates.  For example, reading down the column, Christine Roussiyan sent her preferences to Russell Mowatt (2), and her third preference to Helen Relph (3) and so on.  Reading across, Ms. Roussiyan got second preferences from Russell Mowatt (2) and from Helen Relph (2), no third preferences (3), and so on.


 South Shepherd Elliott Boegel Wiedermann Jeske Relph Mowatt Roussiyan Thompson Moore Whitefield Letchford Cassar Guthrie
Relph 8 8 8 8 8 1 3 3 7 9 9 7 7 7
Whitefield 14 14 14 14 14 14 4 4 5 5 1 4 6 6
Mowatt 10 10 10 10 10 3 1 2 9 8 8 9 9 9
Jeske 5 6 7 5 1 13 14 13 12 12 12 12 13 12
Guthrie 13 13 13 13 13 12 13 12 4 2 2 3 3 1
Cassar 11 11 11 11 11 11 12 11 3 3 3 2 1 2
Boegel 2 2 1 2 2 10 11 10 13 13 13 13 12 13
Elliot 3 1 4 3 3 9 10 9 10 11 11 10 10 10
Letchford 12 12 12 12 12 8 9 8 2 4 4 1 2 3
Moore 6 3 2 6 7 7 8 7 6 1 5 6 4 4
Wiedermann 4 7 6 1 5 6 7 6 14 14 14 14 14 14
Thompson 7 4 3 7 6 4 6 5 1 6 6 5 5 5
Roussiyan 9 9 9 9 9 2 2 1 8 7 7 8 8 8
Shepherd 1 5 5 4 4 5 5 14 11 10 10 11 11 11


Read down the column in the following table to see in what order candidates sent their preferences to other candidates (where for example, 5 means fifth preference, 11 means last). Read across the row to see what order of preferences each candidate received from other candidates.  For example, reading down the column, Russell Yardley sent his second preferences to Noel Harvey (2), and his third preference to Henryka Benson (3) and so on.  Reading across, Mr. Yardley got second preferences from Noel Harvey (2) and from Henryka Benson (2), no third preferences (3), and so on.


West Peeler Wilson Drago Harvey Yardley Jukes Todd Benson Livingstone Manning Gyorffy
Gyorffy 7 7 7 9 7 8 11 11 3 3 1
Manning 4 4 4 10 5 6 10 10 2 1 3
Peeler 1 2 2 11 10 11 9 6 8 4 8
Jukes 8 8 8 5 4 1 2 3 5 5 4
Livingstone 6 6 6 6 6 7 8 9 1 2 2
Benson 9 10 9 3 3 3 3 1 9 10 9
Yardley 5 5 5 2 1 4 5 2 4 6 5
Wilson 3 1 3 7 11 9 7 8 7 8 7
Todd 10 9 10 4 8 2 1 5 10 7 10
Harvey 11 11 11 1 2 5 4 4 11 11 11
Drago 2 3 1 8 9 10 6 7 6 9 6



How Does Your Vote Count?

(14/11/08 - C)   In Macedon Ranges, the Senate-style proportional vote count is used.  That means preferences are everything.

So, you are about to receive your ballot paper...  but what's it all about, and how do you vote for who you want? 


When residents vote in this Council election, they will be electing three councillors in each ward, not one.  So how do you vote for more than one candidate?  Preferences.  Those numbers you put on your ballot paper are preferences.  Who you select to send your preferences to makes all the difference.  Here's why:


Votes are counted using the 'proportional' vote counting system.  That's a complicated system, even for those who know it.  Unlike 'preferential' vote counting which is used when only one candidate per ward is to be elected, and where the candidate with 50% +1 vote is the 'winner', proportional vote counting requires candidates to have a 'quota' or proportion of formal votes to win.  In Macedon Ranges Shire, a quota is roughly 25% of total formal votes).  Sounds easier than 50%, but not necessarily. It depends on the number of candidates (the more candidates, the more the primary vote can be split amongst candidates), and on preference flows. 


Candidates can win on 'primary' votes (by gaining a 'quota' of ballot papers with 1 against their name).  Or they can win with a mix of primary votes and votes they receive from other candidates (preferences). 


In general terms, if a candidate receives enough 'primary' (1) votes to attain a 'quota' and is elected, any votes they have that are over and above the number they need to win (the 'quota') are called a 'surplus', and these votes are then passed on to the next preferred candidate (e.g. No. 2) on the winner's ballot paper. 


If no candidate is elected on 'primary' votes, candidates with the fewest votes are successively eliminated, and their votes passed to the next preferred candidate on their ballot papers, until a candidate is elected. 


It gets trickier when a candidate is elected partly on 'primary' votes, and partly on votes passed to them by another candidate.  Any 'surplus' votes from a candidate elected this way are distributed as follows:  'primary' votes (No. 1 votes for the elected candidate) go directly to the next person preferenced on the elected candidate's ballot paper.  On the other hand, any votes the elected candidate received from eliminated or already elected candidates are sent on to the next person preferenced on their ballot paper.  If the next person has already been elected or eliminated, the vote passes down to the person next preferenced on the ballot paper, and so on, until the vote reaches a remaining candidate.


In summary, candidates can receive votes from other candidates in two ways:  from 'the top' - from candidates who have won and have a 'surplus' of votes to pass on to the next preferred candidates on those ballot papers, or from 'the bottom' - from candidates who are eliminated and pass their votes to the candidate preferenced next on their ballot papers.


Depending on which candidates still remain and the number of times a candidate's votes have already been distributed to other candidates, at some stage votes may end up with candidates in the middle or lower range of a voter's preferences because votes are counted, and passed on, again and again.  At this election, votes will be counted by computer, but there's still an image of increasingly tattered ballot papers, isn't there...


When a candidate is elected, any other distributions in progress are halted, and the elected candidate's surplus is distributed.  If that distribution doesn't elect another councillor, pending distributions recommence or candidates with the fewest votes continue to be eliminated and their votes distributed until another candidate is elected.  


Once all three vacancies are filled with newly elected councillors, counting and distribution of votes stops.  Votes of candidates who run 'fourth' are not distributed.


With a proportional vote counting system, who you preference, and in what order, is important because preferences just keep being handed on to the next candidate on your ballot paper.


The order of the numbers you put on a ballot paper (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc) determines where your vote goes.  For example, if your No.1 candidate is eliminated (i.e. the person you put first or No. 1 on your ballot paper), then your vote is passed to the person you put second on your ballot paper (2), and if they are eliminated, to the person you put third (3), and so on.  Potentially, your vote could be passed on from candidate to candidate until it reaches the person you put second last (the Victorian Electoral Commission advises it will not distribute a vote to the person placed last on a ballot paper).  So preferences absolutely do matter!!!! 


Voters have the option of following the preferences of the candidate they want to vote for.  These will be shown for each candidate on the candidates' statement that comes with ballot papers.  This is the simplest way of preferencing: your vote goes first to your preferred candidate, then is automatically passed to the candidates your preferred candidate has indicated. 


Alternatively, voters can also choose their own preferences.  If you do this, remember you are electing three councillors, so put your top three candidates first (i.e. numbered 1 to 3 on your ballot paper) followed in numeric order by those you next prefer, and then by those you least prefer and least want to have your vote.  Put the person you definitely don't want your vote passed to last (i.e. assign them the last or highest number available, for example in South ward this would be 14, and in East and West wards, 11)


To make sure your vote counts:

Votes will not be accepted after 6.00 pm on Friday 28 November, so be sure your vote is returned well before then.  Counting will take place over the weekend of 29 and 30 November.  Results should be known late on Sunday 30 November.


MRRA Says:


This is by no means a complete description of how votes are counted, but if you've made it this far you probably deserve a medal!


It's a frail, complicated democracy we have, isn't it? 


Macedon Ranges Shire was forced to accept the proportional vote counting system, which political parties tend to favour, possibly because they are the only ones who understand it, when the Victorian government decided in 2005 that Macedon Ranges Shire would have 3 wards with 3 councillors per ward.  Prior to that, Macedon Ranges had nine 'single councillor' wards and used the simpler preferential vote counting system.


The frailty of the proportional vote counting system, and the importance of preferences, was highlighted in South ward in 2005, where Deb Dunn received the highest number of primary votes (1500+), only some 300 votes short of a 'quota', but wasn't elected because she didn't get preferences from other candidates.  At the same time, Helen Relph received only about 600+ primary votes (some 1200 votes short of a 'quota') but, because she collected preferences from several other candidates, was elected.


As complicated as the above seems, you wouldn't want to know what happens when an elected councillor resigns under this system!


Threats And Whines Come As MRRA Star Ratings Roll Out

(14/11/08 - C)   Hey, guys, there's no point trying to shoot the 'messenger'

There have been some interesting reactions to MRRA's Star Ratings.  In 2005 the Association was lambasted for issuing Star Ratings without speaking to candidates.  We rectified that situation in 2008 by contacting all candidates, other than sitting councillors, and asking questions of them in a phone survey, and 22 of 28 candidates participated.  Sitting councillors were reviewed on their records over the past three year term.  These responses and reviews formed the basis of the Star Ratings. 


It's fairly obvious that some people aren't at all happy that MRRA has assessed and rated candidates.  Over the past 10 days, there have been 6 threats made against the Association, some perhaps of less substance than others.


And there are some candidates who are very unhappy with the Star Rating result they received: it could only have come about because MRRA fiddled around with candidate responses, is not transparent or accountable, is biased, etc. etc. etc.  You no doubt get the drift...


Our questions to candidates were designed to find out more about the candidates, and where they were coming from on a range of issues.  Some questions had set option responses: yes or no; more less or enough; and such like.  Some candidates objected to these questions as being too narrow.  We noted this but allowed all to explain their position if they wished.  Some simply wouldn't be tied down to any answer.


One benefit of the phone interviews was being able to get a 'feel' for the candidate and their views, another was being able to to piece together a bigger picture of each. Responses were used to assess where the candidate was coming from, what they brought to Council, and how they might perform as a councillor.


These responses told us a lot about the candidate, probably more than most realized.


The twist is, while some complain we got it all wrong, we've noticed some aren't telling voters what they told us. That's not to say what they are saying isn't true, but based on the information we have, it perhaps isn't as complete as it might be. 


For example, we haven't noticed some candidates telling voters they support more development, more subdivision, big spending projects.  That they think there's nothing Macedon Ranges can do about population growth or climate change, or that they haven't lived here long, or don't know much about how a council works or the issues council deals with or how to make sound planning decisions, or that they don't support keeping this place rural.  They aren't saying they hesitated at having heritage protection or thought there should be less, or thought the Braemar development and 1000 lot subdivision might be OK, or supported or said there's nothing to stop more pokies, or that they think landscapes are landscaping, or that they knew nothing about Council finances.


But they told us. And that's what we assessed them on. 


Instead of 'shooting' MRRA, perhaps some should have a long hard think about how truly open, honest, transparent and accountable they themselves have been with the electorate.


Local Government Ruling On Misleading Literature

(14/11/08 - C)  MRRA's complaint brushed off

Last week MRRA lodged a complaint with the Victorian Electoral Commission [VEC] about what it sees as misleading and deceptive advertizing by MRRS Ltd.  The VEC subsequently referred the complaint to Local Government Victoria, at the Department of Planning and Community Development.


MRRA's complaint related to a statement on MRRS Ltd’s candidate flyers claiming its candidates are part of a “group” titled “The Ratepayers and Residents of Macedon Ranges Shire”.


MRRA's view is that this statement is deceptive and misleading in that it attempts to pass MRRS Ltd off either as us, or as a community group, when in fact it is a company.  We believe this misinformation will cause much confusion and has the potential to influence the way people vote.


A response has now been received from DPCD, advising that MRRS Ltd's material is not deceptive or misleading.


MRRA Says:


Sorry, DPCD, we disagree, and wonder what would qualify as deceptive and misleading in the Department's eyes if this doesn't.


If that's the standard being applied, there shouldn't be any problems if someone calls themselves the LABOUR party or the LIBREL party or the GREAN party at the next State election...


Ode To A Rural Macedon Ranges

(14/11/08 - C)  MRRA's Star Rating flyer

Residents in towns may have noticed an MRRA flyer in their letterboxes over recent days announcing the results of MRRA's Star Ratings. Some hard-working volunteers helped get the flyers out and about - not easy with the hot weather.


The flyer shows Star Ratings on one side, and an Ode to A Rural Macedon Ranges on the other, along with a caution about MRRS Ltd. 


A long-time resident sent us the Ode and we thought it captured what other residents say to us so well, it just had to be shared. Our thanks and appreciation to the author.


Click here to see the MRRA flyer.


'Basic' Clarkefield: Push For Ad Hoc New Town By Cr. Geoff Neil Underscores Potential For Suburban Future

(18/10/08 - SP)  Needs to be more than just 'empty' land, Geoffrey

This week's report in the Macedon Ranges Leader, that Cr. Geoff Neil is pushing for a new town of some 3,000 people to be established at Clarkefield, picks up a recurrent theme, and confirms another.  This type of proposal - from a single landowner - was around before Council amalgamations in 1995, back when Geoff was a Romsey Shire Councillor and Clarkefield was in the former Shire of Romsey. 


And then in 2008, just before a Council election, just as Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 is being taken away, up it pops again, courtesy of Cr. Neil.  Geoff seems to think that having no infrastructure, except a train station at which trains rarely stop, can somehow be overlooked as a constraint on development (and surely no-one is suggesting that this train station makes Clarkefield an Activity Centre!!!!).  Cr. Neil further seems to think this idea can be rushed before a new, apparently supportive Council, and Bob's your uncle. Fixed.


This ad hoc plan confirms both Cr. Neil's overt passion for almost any form of development and lots of it (except in his home town of Romsey); and that suburbia is coming to Macedon Ranges. 


The odd spot is, a few pages further into the same paper, there was our Mayor, Cr. Noel Harvey, absolutely adamant Macedon Ranges wasn't about to be suburbanized.


MRRA Says:


We're just wondering if Geoff's announcement was spurred on by the prospect of getting rid of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8?  Does he know something we don't know?  Are Clarkefield and SPP8 linked?  Has some kind of deal already been done for suburbanization with the powers that be? 


A new town at Clarkefield is 'spun' as an alternative to continuing to chocker up existing towns, or a way to relieve pressure on rural land.  Uh-uh.  Quite apart from the fact that Clarkefield IS rural land, if the this-is-the-place-for-a village idea goes ahead, our money's firmly on Clarkefield being additional to, not instead of, development everywhere else.


Poor Geoff.  Many would fondly say he has something of an aptitude for dropping clangers, and he would probably agree.  He's dropped a doozy here.  Where better to advertize a totally ad hoc approach to planning than on the front page of the local paper!  Could be time to move on, mate...


And poor Noel.  Ouch!  Embarrassing...


"I Have A Dream":  Let's Elect A Council We Can Be Proud Of, Says MRRA, As It Announces It Will Again Rate Candidates At The November 2008 Council Election

(14/10/08 - C)  Dare to imagine excellence instead of mediocrity!

There has never been a more critical Council election for Macedon Ranges than this one.  In a time of great economic, social and environmental uncertainty, we owe it to ourselves to demand the best in those who will represent us, and to favour those who understand these issues, this community, and what makes this place tick. 


In 2008, we must do better.  For too long our Council has been dominated not by those who see the big picture and act consistently in the broad public interest, but by those who look inwards and regard being on Council as having power instead of responsibility.  It's time to shift the balance, to get people who are knowledgeable and care, forward-thinking, and who put this place first and will stand up for our environment and our lifestyles, not to mention manage our money responsibly.


To this end, MRRA this week, through a statement issued to local press, challenged residents to dream of what could be, to aspire to having a Council we can be proud of, to look and move forward confidently and with hope to a future with Councillors who are of this time, and will work for this community.  We said:

"Macedon Ranges, it’s time for positive change!  Time for a Council that listens to its community, and leads.  For excellence instead of mediocrity.  Dare to imagine!  Stand up… stand up and say:


I have a dream!  Of a Council that is wise and inspirational; is honest and has integrity; operates openly and accountably;  aspires to serve us before others; sees the big picture and plans for the long-term;  thinks 2050 not 1950…


I have a dream!  Of a Council that rates responsibly; understands the tight budgets of those who are financially limited and socially disadvantaged; spends our money prudently to reap the most benefit for the most people…


I have a dream!  Of a Council that reveres and guards our precious, irreplaceable area; comprehends and acts on climate change; knows what true sustainability means; treasures and protects our outstanding environment; conserves our rural land; preserves our heritage…


I have a dream!  Of a Council that safeguards our landscapes and rural character; understands and defends our values; says ‘no’ to inappropriate development…


I have a dream!  Of a Council that treats all of us equally and fairly; cares for and respects the most vulnerable among us; works with us and for us and genuinely consults our community; puts public interest and our common good first…


You have the power to make this dream happen when you vote in November. 


We at the Residents’ Association will be rating candidates on how they shape up, based on their performance and background.  Before voting begins, we will identify who we believe can best contribute to the type of Council – and future – we all want.


If you share this dream, why not also consider standing for Council, and be part of the team that delivers it."

Click here to see the full release.


Council Elections: Community And Candidate Information Session, Romsey 18 September

(11/9/08 - C)  Municipal Association of Victoria to inform potential candidates

An information session will be held at the Romsey Community Hub (96 - 100 Main Road, Romsey) on Thursday 18 September starting at 7pm.  The sessions will provide information about the upcoming November Council election to potential candidates.  This type of session can also be informative for people who aren't thinking of running for Council, because it provides an insight into the electoral process, and our democracy.


MRRA Says:

MRRA encourages as many people as possible to go along to this session, whether you are presently thinking about nominating as a candidate or not.  It would be a couple of hours well spent, because it's your (our) democracy, and this is a means by which you can better understand and be part of it.  Go for it!


Click here to see key election dates


New Website To Inform People Who Want To Run For Council

(9/6/08 - C)  Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) launches "Stand For Council" website

The run up to the November Council election has started, with Councils' peak body MAV announcing a website intended to inform people who may be thinking of running to become a Councillor.  The website contains useful information about Councils and running for Council.  Click to go to the site.  Click here to see MAV's media release.