Posted 8/10/20    Updated 8/11/20


Macedon Ranges Shire Council Elections, 2020

MRRA Home Page  Result How Votes Are Counted About MRRA




The 2020 Council Election Candidates: 

Who MRRA Would (And Wouldn't) Vote For


MRRA is entitled, under its Purposes and democratic principles, to form and express views. 



Please read this and this first



Candidate Assessments:    East Ward    South Ward    West Ward



What's At Stake?  About The 2012-2016 Council   


The 2012-2016 Macedon Ranges Council.  The "boy's club".  If you lived through it, don't ever forget it.  If you didn't, give thanks you missed it. 


That detested culture: arrogant, patronising, bullying, we-know-best, what-you-think-doesn't-count, wheeler-dealer, entrepreneurial, good-idea-lovely-people-nice spot,  objectors-are-the-people-from-the-town-of-no.  Previous Macedon Ranges Shire councils had shown symptoms, but between 2012-2016 it soared to art form.  A moat-and-drawbridge mentality - them inside, you out.  Your money thought of as their money, to splash on favoured but delusional economic development 'bling':


! The Equine Strategy - a $40 million expense based on a business case of luring nearly all of Werribee Park's events to Macedon Ranges. 

! The big, fat council lie about bad financials at Hanging Rock to justify making the publicly-owned Rock and East Paddock a depository for private commercial operations.

! The original Kyneton Airfield masterplan's enthusiastic endorsement of private commercialisation of public land. 

! Kyneton Mineral Springs degraded by being turned into a black water dumping ground and sometime camping park for RV vehicles. 

! International and interstate trips researching 'bling' economic development opportunities, plus council's annual 'economic development' exodus to Tokkai in Japan. 

! Accelerated growth swarming into towns, rural land cut up into ever smaller 'lifestyle' blocks. 


It was an island of constipated thought that didn't, couldn't move forward, welded onto last century's vision of "progress" with zero connection to "progressive", or care, recognition, respect for the Shire's community and environment.


What's At Stake?  Macedon Ranges Life - The Ranges Under Assault Again


In the 2008 council election, a group calling itself Macedon Ranges Residents Secretariat Ltd advertised for, recruited and then ran 10 candidates (3 West ward, 2 East ward and 5 South ward).  Two candidates in this 2020 election were affiliated with that company (Hackett, South ward and Wilson, West ward). 


At this 2020 council election a new anonymous group, Macedon Ranges Life, has emerged.  It too has advertised for candidate recruits in a local paper. The advertisement, authorised by a Mr. Jim Schaefer of Mornington, reads part job application, part real estate marketing and part investment plan. The group's website  (motto: "Happy, Safe, Healthy") has been updated from the original error-ridden soft-sell version, and the agenda is now laid bare. These faceless people aim to take Macedon Ranges Shire back to the 'glory days' of the 2012-2016 council - entrepreneurial, 'bling' economic development, importing new businesses to compete with local businesses, driving population growth and 'lifestyle' living.  


In an overdose of deja-vu, this group's top six complaints against the current council are (if you believe them): "Equine Strategy - cancelled.  Fire Hazard Reduction Program - On Hold.  Kyneton Airfield Development - Deferred.  Economic Development & Tourism - Removed.  Gisborne Olde Time Market - Anti.  Barkly Square, Kyneton (Soccer Ground Development) - Delayed."  The flavour of a Kyneton-based influence is strong, but the anonymous Macedon Ranges Life's rot has spread to all parts of the Shire.


A second advertisement (Midland Express, 6/10/20) reinforces Macedon Ranges Life's agenda by depicting three candidates "with their heads in the sand" so you will know which candidates Macedon Ranges Life does not want you to vote for: Jennifer Anderson (West ward); Natasha Gayfer and Henry Bleeck (East ward).  The advertisement gives a "green" to all other candidates, including their own anonymous candidates.


Macedon Ranges Life has also been calling candidates, asking them to sign on to their 'cause'.  It seems some have, some haven't, some were already on board.  Macedon Ranges Life says they will tell you who their candidates are, if you register on their website.  Be smarter than that - check policies and priorities, and contact suspect candidates, before you vote.


The next council will inherit responsibility for supporting local businesses to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Macedon Ranges Life is playing on that, trying to convince you that's what they want too.  It's not.  Supporting local business and economic development isn't a problem, until it's done in the obsessive way these faceless people plan to do it.  


If Macedon Ranges' voters aren't vigilant, the worst type of council will be elected and it, in turn, will appoint the wrong CEO.  From there it all rolls off the rails.  For years.  That's what's at stake in this election.


About the 2016 - 2020 Council


Most Shire residents welcomed the council elected in 2016 with a collective community sigh of relief, as if peace had finally poured across the land.  Out went the boy's club, the bling and the bullying - hallmarks of the 2012-2016 council.  In came respect, a more 'in touch', forward-looking and consultative councillor group, and recognition of community and environmental values as being critical in sustainable decision-making.  The ship steadied, then began to turn around.  Some of the previous council's toxic legacy was wound back, but some remained.   Yes, there's more to be done to keep moving forward.  What this Shire cannot afford to do is go backwards.  Please make a considered decision when you vote.


How MRRA Assessed Candidates


The Association developed a range of questions and asked all 'new' candidates (those who aren't current or previous councillors) to respond.  We sincerely thank those who did. 


Questions included where they lived and for how long; what they do; if they have the time (10 - 30 hours a week) to be an effective councillor (* all said they did); participation in community activities and council issues; affiliations with political parties or other special interest groups; knowledge of current issues that the new council will decide; what they hope to bring to council; knowledge/experience with council responsibilities (Council Plan, Local Government Act and Winky Pop, planning scheme and applications, Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation, community representation, and environmental issues); and what council needs to focus/improve on most and where they could contribute.


Current councillors who are re-standing are assessed on their performances across the 2016-2020 term.  Candidates who were councillors prior to 2016 (Guthrie and Hackett - South ward, Neil - East ward) have been assessed on their performance when a councillor, their 2020 candidate statements and other election material.


The Association also considered the compatibility of candidates' values with its Purposes.  Assessment of candidates occurred at two Association meetings.  The Association does not 'run' candidates.  Any member who nominates is automatically suspended and excluded from all Association activities for the election's duration.  Any members endorsing, managing or scrutineering for candidates are considered conflicted, and are likewise excluded. See About MRRA for more information


What We Were Looking For In 2020 Candidates


With four new councillors needed to replace current councillors who are not standing for re-election, and with the hostile bid to take control of council being mounted by the anonymous Macedon Ranges Life group, particular attention has been paid to candidates' values, direction, priorities, past performances, potential, experience, interests, credibility, knowledge of council responsibilities, and empathy with environmental issues.  Why?  

Who MRRA Would Vote For


Candidates are first assessed in ballot paper order in each ward, followed by a simple summary of MRRA's 'best-to-worst' for each ward .


Based on our criteria, there are 12 candidates across the three wards that MRRA would vote for: five men and seven women.  Only nine can be elected. 


East ward    Natasha Gayfer*, Bill West*,  Annette Death


South ward:   Adrian Gauci, Rob Guthrie, Anne Moore, then Dominic Bonanno and Christine Walker  


West ward:    Jennifer Anderson*, Mark Ridgeway, Lenka Thompson, Janet Pearce*  


* current councillors


In MRRA's view,  these candidates collectively represent a desirable mix of continuity and invigoration by 'new blood', across a range of ages. This grouping is characterised by diverse yet complementary interests, skills, experience and backgrounds, and by the most believable commitments and connectedness to community, environment and high governance and operational standards.  MRRA's belief is these candidates are the most likely to build on and improve the framework and direction established by the 2016 council.  As in 2016, the Association's recommendation of these candidates comes with unequivocal anticipation that councillors will live up to the expectations they have fostered, noting all new councillors must necessarily be taken with a degree of trust.  




MRRA asked candidates if they were members of or affiliated with political parties or special interest/lobby groups.  All candidates who responded to MRRA said they were not aligned with a special interest/lobby group.  At this 2020 election, more candidates have acknowledged membership of (a mix of) political parties than in 2016. Of itself, this has not been a determining factor either for or against a candidate in MRRA's search for higher quality candidates.  We do not have information about affiliations of candidates who did not respond.


For the record, of MRRA's preferred candidates, one (Lenka Thompson) is an endorsed Greens candidate.  Four others are members of a political party but are not party endorsed  (ALP:  Natasha Gayfer, Annette Death, Mark Ridgeway / Liberal Party: Dominic Bonanno).  Some of these have indicated they are running independent of party.  All others have indicated they are independent candidates. If you feel you need more information, please contact a candidate directly.  One candidate (Adrian Gauci) is a member of MRRA (membership currently suspended)  see MRRA policy for members who nominate as candidates



Individual Candidate Assessments:    East Ward    South Ward    West Ward   

Candidate contact details

Candidates' Statements -  Victorian Electoral Commission 2020 Macedon Ranges Nominations

2016 MRRA Candidate Assessments

2012 MRRA Candidate Assessments

2008 Council Election: MRRA Candidate Star Ratings

2005 Council Election: MRRA Candidate Star Ratings



Note:  Photographs are sourced from 2020 candidates' statements, VEC website (link above).  Apologies, but copies used here do not reproduce well and print poorly.


EAST WARD 6 candidates (in ballot paper order)           Summary of East Ward Assessments            South ward    West ward

A dramatic reduction from 11 candidates in the 2016 election to only 6 in 2020 reduces options for East ward residents. 

Some key East ward issues to be addressed by a new council will include resolving the Riddells Creek (Amess Road) Precinct Structure Plan, a new 30 year Structure Plan  and Neighbourhood Character Study for Romsey and setting a new Settlement Boundary for the town (along the same lines as Gisborne Futures), the State government's Strategic Agricultural Land study, and application of new heritage, landscape and biodiversity overlays.

Candidates MRRA Assessment



Ran unsuccessfully 2012, 2016 (East ward).  


Did not respond to MRRA.  

Romsey-based artist with a number of interests.  No indication of involvement in or experience with council-related processes, responsibilities or issues, so it's unclear how or what the candidate would positively contribute.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate? NO.  Other candidates have stronger credentials.

Geoff NEIL ****


****  Previous Councillor

Prior to 1995, councillor 9 years, Shire of Romsey.  Elected 1997, re-elected (unopposed) 2000, unsuccessful 2003 (all in then Monegeetta ward); elected 2005, unsuccessful 2008, 2012, 2016 (East ward).  

Cue Twilight Zone theme: Doo-doo-doodoo. 

He's back!  Again.  Bless his socks, this candidate goes waaay back and has been on or running for council since well before Statewide council amalgamations in 1995.  Eons ago! 

The Local Government Act, the planning system and planning schemes, as well as society's values, the climate and demographics have all changed dramatically since then, and this Shire needs councillors who that get that.

This time his platform includes governance, and the current council's 'poor record on town planning'. 

It's difficult to see how concerns with governance in terms of lack of connection plays to the candidate's strengths - MRRA's eyebrows didn't just lift at this one, they almost disappeared into our hairline.  Could this be the same Mr. Neil of yesteryear?

In the North Central Review 8/9/20 the candidate is quoted as saying, "I must have [leadership qualities]..."   The crux of it would hinge on your definition of 'leadership', and on reflection the assumption seems to go a pinch too far. How could it be described - Taking over?  Knowing best?  No standout connection with community values, the environment?  Never alluring.  Although perhaps a wee, wee drop of comfort could be drawn from the thought of such blistering leadership being live-streamed into every resident's device and home.

That ominous little red flag is there again, "commonsense in decision-making is paramount", while the candidate's website resuscitates and resurrects "a commonsense approach to rural land development"   They would be common, but not necessarily sense. 

There's another flicker of red with "many council planning decisions are going to VCAT".  Is that correct?  Cross your fingers this isn't code, as it used to be in the old days, for approving everything to avoid the expense and effort of council going to VCAT, thereby neatly transferring VCAT costs to resident objectors.

Under 60?  Thinking of supporting this candidate?  It's your choice, of course - but MRRA wouldn't, ever.  Hated it back then, and working on the principle you can't put a burst balloon back together again, hold no hope it would be any better now.  Move forward, at speed, you can absolutely do better.

MRRA rated this candidate 1 star in 2005, and half a star in 2008, out of a possible 5 stars.  Here's what we said about him in 2012 and 2016.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  Seriously, NO.  Four interminable years?  NO.  Last place, for us.

Bill WEST *



Elected in East ward at first attempt, 2016.  

Here's what MRRA said about this candidate in 2016:

"Honest broker, with knowledge and experience of council workings and issues, a long memory, and a community-based perspective.  Has the history of the place, and an admirable "bulldust-meter".  

That still holds.  MRRA would have said what you see is what you get - except the candidate's photo here is atrocious!

Long-time journalist / former editor who may almost have attended more council meetings over the years than anyone else around.  This council term, he supported changes to improve council's behaviour, transparency and accountability, and greater community recognition and inclusion.  Has been diligent with his councillor duties, turning in the best attendance record at briefings and council meetings of any councillor in the current term. 

Empathises with the specialness of Macedon Ranges:
"If re-elected, I am keen to continue to work towards maintaining and improving Macedon Ranges as a splendid locality in which to live, work and play.  There needs to be the right balance between built form and protecting our natural landscapes and environment."

A genuine 'community' person, independent, with deep and deeper community connections from a lifetime of living here, and an irrepressible passion for rubbing shoulders with many local sporting clubs.  Journalist's nose.  Reads the room. 

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  YES.  A stabilizing influence.

Annette DEATH


Responded to MRRA (phone interview).  Summary of comments:

Lives Riddells Creek, almost 4 years. Business Development Manager, Maurice Blackburn.   
Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities? 
1. Not formally.  Interaction with Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House, and has been meeting people locally.  

What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council?
2.  Working with all levels of government, the private sector (including projects and budget management, funding applications). 
3. Advocacy, especially workplace safety. 
4. Has grass roots exposure, listening to and working with community. 
5. Family background of being active in the community. Hardworking.  Genuine, what you see is what you get.

Participated in council-related activities?  
6. Submission, Riddells Creek Precinct Structure Plan.
7. Watched online council meetings.
8. Participation in community information session and training sessions for female candidates.

What if any changes to the Council Plan?
9. Has read the Council Plan. 
10. No particular change, resonates well with her values.  Questions to be asked: How sustainable? Is that working?

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?
11. Aware of Act and of conflict of interest / keeping an open mind requirements.

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications?    
12. No, except Riddells Creek (Amess Road) Precinct Structure Plan (concerns with open space, size of lots).  
13. Semi-rural character, biodiversity and eco-systems are important.  

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation? “protection” means?  
14. Biodiversity – innovative approach, local species. Need to factor these in. 
15. Sustainability – climate change, carbon emissions.
16. Loves Riddells Creek with its space and contrast.   Need to get it right.

Community representation means? 
17. Acting responsibly, and taking input seriously; transparency and getting feedback. 

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues?  
18. Carbon neutrality (keep targets of current council and perhaps set interim targets to measure incrementally)
19. Understanding the Shire’s environment.

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide? 
20. Hanging Rock Strategy – DELWP, Ministerial Advisory Committee – needs input from council.
21. Kyneton Primary School issue – re retain as community hub.
22. Gisborne Futures.
23. CEO.

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute?
24. Community consultation (expand, look at town hall meetings, community conversations).
25. Feedback – not so focussed on single issue responses; how it happens needs to be more flexible so more locals can participate.    

26. Planning - neighbourhood / character very important – any developments in train, need to get it right.       
27. Maternal health services – excellent and supports, also public health issues. 
28. Important to have good clubs and sporting facilities; Gisborne Sports Hub – important that kids stay active
29. Safety – street lighting and footpaths.
30. With COVID, working with local businesses, tough times, not much activity.  They need support – buy local.   

This candidate has some good strengths, along with some gaps in knowledge and local experience but seems enthusiastic and intelligent and interested enough to learn quickly.  See Affiliations. Would need to be mindful at all times that a councillor's first responsibility is to the community they represent. 

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  YES. Capabilities and potential put her in the top half of this field.

Henry BLEECK * 


 Current & Previous Councillor

Elected via by-election after resignation of then Cr. Joe Morabito in August 2004 (in then Mount William ward); re-elected 2005, unsuccessful in 2008 and 2012 (all East ward).  Elected 2016 in East ward.

Hey, it's Henry.  Really, what can you say? 

It has always been difficult for MRRA to find (m)any positives about this candidate. 

Generally stayed true to form during this term (including a rescission motion to block council's submission to the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council) although he also generally supported some of the more enlightened actions put forward by other councillors, and moved the original resolution to abandon the Equine Strategy on 27/2/17. 

His candidate statement says he stands for Protection, Progress and Prosperity.  As in past years he again claims the surprising credential that he has "a proven record on environment... issues" .  MRRA's observation is that if you blinked you might have missed it.  

His statement that "Council needs to rationalise assets to fund community projects" sets off alarm bells. Selling council assets?  Watch out!

Here's the mystery though:  The anonymous group Macedon Ranges Life is telling you not to vote for Henry Bleeck. Could it be they may have a candidate in East ward they want those votes to go to instead?

Candidate information:  not found.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate? NO.  Nup, doesn't do it for us but, as in 2016, not the worst.

Natasha GAYFER *



Elected in East ward at first attempt, 2016.


Resident of Newham, 12 years.   Has a Masters qualification and works in the sustainability field.  Brings experience and enthusiasm for all matters waste, resource management, recycling and environment.  See Affiliations.

Since being elected in 2016, this forward-looking candidate has positively contributed to improved council priority setting, action on the Shire's environmental and landscape protections, and improved council performances relating to sustainability and climate change impacts, waste management, better recognition of indigenous cultural values and expanding inclusivity within the community. 

Has the extreme honour of being one of the three candidates Macedon Ranges Life is targetting with a "don't-vote-for-this-candidate" campaign.  Wear that badge with pride.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?   YES.  This candidate has earned four more years. 




At a glance: East ward candidates MRRA would, and wouldn't, vote for.

Note:  On your ballot paper, you must place a different number (from 1 to 6 in East ward) against each candidate's name for your vote to count.

CANDIDATE ASSESSMENT:  Would MRRA  Vote for this Candidate?
Natasha Gayfer *
Bill West *
YES. Top two candidates. Put one of these candidates as number one, and the other number two. 
Annette Death YES.  Next best candidate - number three.
Henry Bleeck * NO 
Deborah Alford-Kerr NO.
Geoff Neil ** NO, DEFINITELY NOT – put last at 6

* Current councillor  ** Previous councillor





Note:  Photographs are sourced from 2020 candidates' statements, VEC website (link above).  Apologies, but copies used here do not reproduce well and print poorly.


SOUTH WARD 7 Candidates (in ballot paper order)                 Summary of South Ward Assessments             East ward    West ward

South ward is affected by the vacuum created by all three current councillors deciding to not seek re-election.  One of the most important issues confronting South ward residents over the next 4 years will be 'Gisborne Futures' - planning the town's future out to 2050.

Candidates MRRA Assessment



** Previous Councillor  (South ward)

Elected 2003 (then Jacksons Creek ward - Gisborne area).  Elected again in 2005 and 2008 and then ran unsuccessfully in 2012 (all in South ward).

Lives Gisborne, almost 30 years.  

A surprise to see him nominate, but based on the passion he has shown for Gisborne in the past, perhaps timely.

First ran for council in 2003 in anguish over approval of an over-development in Gisborne, and took a community perspective into council when he won.  Then took up the Shire's planning scheme for some light reading and from that time forward, there it sat, ready to hand, right in front of him in the council chamber. 

He was a South ward councillor at the time the existing Gisborne / New Gisborne Outline Development Plan was produced (2009), a Plan which is now about to be superseded by Gisborne Futures. 

Always did the work and was always well-informed, and over time has continued to show unabated commitment to preserving town character, protecting the Shire's environment and landscapes and representing community and business values.  Experienced.  Passionate about and knows South ward and Gisborne. 

Candidate information:  Not found.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  YES.  



Did not respond to MRRA's questionnaire (a separate email was received). 

Raises some interesting points in his candidate statement.  One about supporting equal playing fields for contracting council work and another, that in 2016 he was promoting transparency (and all good to him for adding his voice to the others calling for live-streaming of council meetings, which the council elected in 2016 quickly introduced).

It's not clear what is meant by "the altering of planning controls that is still occurring behind closed doors at various hours over the previous years".   MRRA hasn't clocked this as a characteristic of the current council.  On the other hand, changes to planning schemes that are made by the State government, over which a council usually has no control, can appear to be approved and introduced quickly and without specific consultation with the Macedon Ranges community, and perhaps this could relate to the concern.

One of the hurdles to MRRA supporting this candidate is that he still seems to not live in the Shire and there appears to be no substantial evidence of connection with the Shire other than the existing ownership of land in the south of the Shire.   

Candidate information: 

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  No. 



Responded to MRRA (phone interview).  Summary of comments:

Lives in Gisborne South, 15 years.  IT manager.
Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities?            
1. Gisborne SES – 5 years.           
2. Gisborne Olde Time Market – supports it.
3. Gisborne Giants Junior Football Coach
4. Gisborne Pony Club volunteers (Gisborne South)
5. Gisborne Christmas Festival (with SES)       

What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council?   
6. 20 years in tech sector – would like council to take up more tech solutions, ‘smarter’ towns, hydrogen fuel cell buses, ‘smart' bins - which would reduce costs in the longer term.

Participated in council-related activities?  
7. Attended some council meetings.
8. Submission re new park in Brooking Road subdivision.

What if any changes to the Council Plan?
9. Current council has a Climate Action Plan

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?

10. Familiar with the Local Government Act.

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications?
11. No.

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation; “protection” means? 
12. Retaining character or natural environment. 

Community representation means? 
13. Gathering everyone’s view and making an informed vote.  Consideration for everyone. 

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues? 
14. Carbon neutrality. Sees room for improvement with council plant and equipment.
15. Liked how council had handled the waste management issue, FOGO.
16. Council needs to lead business and community
17. Waterways, keep the natural state, noxious weeds problem.  

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide?
18. Gisborne Sports Precinct
19. Feels great about selecting a new CEO – preference for someone interested in technological advances.
20. Concerns about people in council who were ‘out-of-towners’.

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute? 

21. Innovation 
22. Gisborne Futures – very keen to look into further – fine balance, growth too much.  Character important.  Concerns with urban growth, seems to be changing all the time.  “Ask why, 5 times”.  Get to the bottom of it.

Pluses for this candidate include his concerns about Gisborne Futures and environmental issues, and from his candidate statement, he seems to also understand that sustainability isn't just about one thing but environmental, social and economic factors working together.  Not unexpectedly, has a strong interest in 'smart' solutions.

Some gaps in knowledge and experience about some council responsibilities but has potential.  Very upfront about political party membership and stated he has no party-political agenda.  See Affiliations.  Pleasing to see in a YouTube video his support for Farmers Markets additional to his support for the Gisborne Olde Time Market.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  Yes... but with a niggle of hesitation about those gaps.



Responded to MRRA (questionnaire):  Summary of comments:

Lives in Gisborne, 25 years.  

Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities? - What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council? - Participated in council-related activities?
1. Macedon Ranges wildlife network - volunteer.
2. 'No to Maccas' Gisborne – ran campaign, 10,000 signatures.
3. Preservation of oaks / elms on Brantome St – cable bundling of electricity lines.               
4. Helensville development – preservation of hedge.               
5. VCAT prep for 5 storey retirement development – Townshend homes.
6. Detailed submission on Gisborne/New Gisborne ODP C67 and presentation to panel hearing.
7. Detailed submission on Romsey ODP C66 – all adopted into planning scheme.
8. Prep and presentation to VCAT as an advocate in Alexander, Meyer & Slater V Macedon Ranges Shire P649/2012 P622/2012.
9. Numerous assists with members of the public on planning issues in south ward for over 18 years (last assist was in 2017/2018)

What if any changes to the Council Plan? 
10. Considers the plan has a major oversight in regard to the elderly, i.e. not directed towards the aged who have lost their one means for outside social interaction that being a senior citizens centre. Inclusiveness in the community for the aged, mental health, well-being and social interaction need to be addressed.
11. Another is addressing the LGTBIQA community within the MRSC, and their mental health and well-being.  

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?
12. Has a hard copy of the first (tagging and re-reading) and is aware of Winky Pop.

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications?  
13. Yes.

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation; “protection” means?
14. Overall, represents aspects of the Macedon Ranges that are unique to certain areas for example Mt Gisborne, Mt Aitken, Mt William Mt Macedon, Hanging Rock, escarpments that are characteristically visually important not only to the residents of the ranges but to tourists and visitors to the area. 
15. Of manmade items it's old bridges, buildings etc that add to the image of a town or its country side. Their protection is extremely important for future generations (cited as examples of where needed including the hideous development at Hanging Rock detracting from its natural beauty, care also needed with wind turbines that would detract from the rurality aspect from the top of Hanging Rock). 
16.There are so many different places in the shire that need to be protected for not only the current generation but those who come after us. In the words of Sir David Attenborough
‘"Instead of controlling the Environment for the benefit of the population, maybe we should control the population to ensure the survival of OUR Environment". 

Community representation means?
17. Standing up for what the community wants, needs and their expectations of HOW their environment, home, shopping, schooling, sporting, and recreation precincts should evolve and grow.

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues?
18. Council have to put environment before development.
19. Better enforcement - refer to Macedon Lodge removal of pristine indigenous ‘protected’ forest in a water catchment area.

20. Step up, ensure all necessary permits are held for tree removal, works within water catchments, protection of native wildlife habitat eg barking owl, powerful owl and endangered musk lorikeets.
21. Create and maintain wildlife corridors for wildlife alone, not a dual purpose corridor for wildlife and pedestrians / cyclists.

22. Carbon neutrality - step up tree planting requirements on a much larger scale particularly in developments.

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide?
23. Gisborne Futures. 
24. (Telstra) Communications Tower on Mt Gisborne PLN/2020/165.
25. New CEO.  

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute?
26. Character & rural land protection – maintaining and enhancing rural aspects of each individual township ensuring the right overlays and zones are in place, and enforced in line with community expectations.
27. Environment – wildlife corridors
28. Lack of community consultation. Specifically, what is occurring with Gisborne Primary School without direct consultation with the community.
29. Social well-being, specifically for elderly female population and a meeting place for community inclusion (men have the men's shed). Bring back a senior citizens centre/club in Gisborne.
30. Lack of retail parking. Full assessment of all available retail parking and proper assessment of permits before waivers.

The candidate also advised:
31. My heart and my thoughts are in the right place, I’m passionate about where I live and the Macedon Ranges and even though I can be like a bull at a gate it’s to protect those things that I love and that our community and townships want.  It's too late to shut the gate after the horse has bolted.

Has been involved in a number of community and council-related activities over the years.  Has genuine empathy with community concerns particularly about consultation and being heard, and protecting Macedon Ranges' environment, landscapes and character.  Is also aware of a number of council's roles and responsibilities.  Something of a rough diamond (as the candidate herself says, "can be like a bull at a gate") but would have a grass roots community perspective.

Candidate information:  Not found.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  YES. 

Adrian GAUCI


Responded to MRRA questionnaire.  Summary of comments:

Lives Gisborne,  20+ years.  Digital operations subject matter expert for an equipment manufacturer.   
Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities? 
1. Gisborne Botanic Gardens.
2. FEHMR (Federation of Horticulture and Environment Macedon Ranges).
3. UL Daly Nature Reserve. 
4. Stanley Park Mt Macedon - when available, attend on maintenance days.
5. Supported special activities for the Scouts.  
6. Macedon Ranges Residents' Association.  

What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council?
7. Bachelor of applied science in Environmental science & Psychology. 
8. Trained in Statistics. 
9. Post grad in Business & Marketing. 
10.  Currently holds a leadership position & has advanced skills in Business, Project Management  & Equipment/Asset management, will bring these skills to support the budget planning process, managing projects & consultants, and pointing out process failures.

Participated in council-related activities?  
11. Yes, submissions for council Budget, Gisborne Futures and many others in the past. Also participated as a community representative in preliminary processes for the Macedon Ranges Visitor Economy Strategy.

What if any changes to the Council Plan?  
12. Many parts need to be reviewed such as 3. Improve the built environment, which is driving urbanisation and destroying town character.

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?
13. Yes.  Winky Pop means bringing an open mind to discussion & decision making.  Although has made submissions in the past they were based on available information at the time.  As a councillor, would have access to more data and information which must be considered. 

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications?  
14. Yes, through community groups.  Currently researching the various planning zones across the ranges. 

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation; “protection” means?  
15. Macedon Ranges became the first region that was included.  This started with SPP8, however the government wanted a more flexible policy to allow developers to move in at any time they wanted to. This new document indicates areas which need to be protected.

Community representation means?  
16. Actually listening to the community and ensuring that the community consultation process is followed. 
17. The current process is flawed because many planning documents show what the community's wants and needs are, but these do not make it into the actual planning.

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues?
18. Act Local first. 
19. Managing waste, utilizing efficient technologies, protecting reserves & open space, and collaborating with other authorities such as  Melbourne Water & DELWP etc. 

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide?
20. Appointing a new CEO.
21. Gisborne Futures.
22. Dixon Field development.

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute?
23. Operations: especially where equipment is involved such as council depots, waste management.
24. Budget.  
25. Gisborne Futures: represent community wants & needs as well as protecting the environmental overlays already in place.
26. Workplace Culture: having come from a progressive work environment.
27. Environmental and Biodiversity planning.  

Declaration: The candidate is a member of MRRA (membership is presently suspended, no participation in current MRRA activities). 

The candidate's professional background, commitment to preserving Macedon Ranges' environment, rural character and special qualities, along with experiences gained from participation in community and council activities, would refresh the diversity and skills at council's table. 

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?   YES.  Would be a contributor. 

Graham HACKETT **


** Previous Councillor  (East ward)

Unsuccessfully ran in affiliation with Macedon Ranges Residents Secretariat Ltd in 2008 in the East ward. Elected in 2012 (East ward), and ran unsuccessfully in 2016 (East ward).


Did not respond to MRRA.

Wait up a rootin' tootin' minute!  Can this be right?

If a stranger comes knocking on your door, you usually want to know something about them before you let them in, right?

In 2012, this hombre was elected a Macedon Ranges' councillor.  Except back then, he ran in, represented and seemed devoted to the EAST ward.   He ran again (unsuccessfully) in 2016 in the EAST ward. 

You are probably ahead of us here.  Logically, the first question for this candidate would be, "Do you live in South ward?", and the second, "Why are you running in South ward?".

In the 2008 council election, this candidate was affiliated with Macedon Ranges Residents' Secretariat Ltd.  This was a company that recruited and ran candidates in all wards (a similar situation is occurring in this election with the anonymous group Macedon Ranges Life). 

A councillor on the 2012-2016 Macedon Ranges council, arguably one of the most memorable things he did was to pronounce, as Mayor at the last council meeting of the 2012-2016 term, that 'what this council has done, can't be undone'.  Some of it has been 'undone' by the 2016 council, but not everything.  Think on this: the seeds for Gisborne Futures were planted while this candidate was last on Council.

MRRA's fervent wish is that this candidate would just take his black hat and ride off into the sunset.

Candidate information:  Not found.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?   A very SHOUTY NO.   We would put him in last place every time.

Christine WALKER


Responded to MRRA (phone interview):  Summary of comments:

Mount Macedon, 8 years (since 2012)   Market and social researcher – surveys, analysis. 

Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities?
1. Mount Players – very involved. 
2. Shared Table, Mount Macedon (attendee). 
3. Macedon community house project – donation towards community contribution.

What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council?    
4. Skills in consultation. Needs improvement including formal consultation. Some very flawed examples around.

5. Experience in talking to a range of people to gain different perspectives, identifying who to speak to, target markets, local government branding.
6. Has worked with local government in role of researcher. 
7. "Know first then make up your mind". 

Participated in council-related activities?  
8. No, not with this council (although some in another council area).

What if any changes to the Council Plan? 
9. Feels uninformed so doesn’t have a view at the moment, prefer not to answer.  

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?   
10. Some familiarity with the old Local Government Act. 
11. Not familiar with the “Winky Pop” name but yes, familiar with what Winky Pop means, and conflict of interest.   

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications?   
12. No, except previous personal planning application.  Can be an overly complex process. 

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation; “protection” means?
13. Aware there is a protection overlay over the area but not clear what it means. 

Community representation means?
14. Dialogue, making sure the community view is represented. So many ways this can be done.
15. Community view needs to be in the thinking of councillors.
16. Understands it’s also about being active in the community, not just reading. 
17. Community feedback - aware it can need to be based on evidence – gave example of major differences in views between online survey and random sample.
18. Perhaps a Community jury? 

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues?
19. Protect – special environment.
20. Lead, be proactive – carbon neutrality – go faster towards targets.  Improve response, and self-review to see if can be done better.

21. Bins good but improvement can be made.  

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide?
22. Engagement Policy.
23. Gisborne Futures.
24. CEO. 

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute?
25. Consultation, and quality of documentation
26. Communication – improvements in the way council talks to ratepayers.  

27. Gisborne Futures – concerns with consultation and engagement, consultation has to change, not good enough. Doesn’t reference protection, no summary or introduction to each theme. Doesn’t see creative thinking. Gisborne is a beautiful town, tree lined streets, hills.  Not against change but the process to develop the town. Think creatively about what it means, be very careful about it. 

Super-professional on community consultation and engagement, and impressive, but the next steps weren't quite as clear. The candidate acknowledged there is a lot of reading to do to address shortfalls in experience and knowledge of council activities. Would have potential to catch up, and is passionate enough about some of Gisborne Futures' flaws, however her present support for apartments would be something for the broader community to consider. Spoke well in support of carbon neutrality, but not quite as good on the Shire's natural environment.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?    Yes... but with some reservations this time around.




At a glance: South ward candidates MRRA would, and wouldn't, vote for.

Note:  On your ballot paper, you must place a different number (i.e. from 1 through to 7 in South ward) against each candidate's name for your vote to count.

CANDIDATE ASSESSMENT:  Would MRRA  Vote For This Candidate?

Adrian Gauci
Rob Guthrie **
Anne Moore
YES.  Choices for first, second and third positions.
Dominic Bonanno
Christine Walker
Yes, but both with reservations.  Fourth and fifth.   
J S Amenta No.
Graham Hackett *** NO.  Last place (or lower if it was possible!)

** Previous councillor   *** Previous councillor, East ward





Note:  Photographs are sourced from 2020 candidates' statements, VEC website (link above).  Apologies, but copies used here do not reproduce well and print poorly.


WEST WARD 8 Candidates (in ballot paper order)                   Summary of West Ward Assessments             East ward     South ward

West ward appears to be a focal point for the anonymous group Macedon Ranges Life's efforts to elect its unidentified candidates.

Candidates MRRA Assessment



Responded to MRRA (phone interview).  Summary of comments:

Lives Kyneton (near Golf Course), 20+ years at current location, originally arrived mid-80s.  Retired secondary college principle (Kyneton).
Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities?
1. President, Kyneton Rotary
2. Piper Street Landcare
3. Victorian Curriculum Authority
4. Kyneton Community House  

What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council?
5. Qualified in IT – computers, networks (including setting up networks for local schools).
6. Maths and science qualifications, environmental science.  

Participated in council-related activities?
7. Submission – planning for Sports Hub, Gisborne (facility is for the whole Shire)
8. Involved in campaign to keep old Kyneton Primary School in community hands, council meetings and process for this community based centre.

What if any changes to the Council Plan? 
9. Has read it, 5 themes. Likes a lot of what current council is doing.  Implementation is important

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?
10. Familiar with old Act (not in detail), and knows that the new Act tightens requirements for councillors. 
11. Had heard of Winky Pop and ‘keeping an open mind’.

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications? 
12. Not really. Touched on edges of planning applications - extension.
13. Also aware of grief among business people about being told different things by different planners.
14. Wants council to improve processes, easier, simplified – clearer information – to reduce time, grief and costs.

15. Moved here for amenity. Should have at the top of the agenda.
16. Growing and development is a good thing, done properly – keep environment - community.   

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation; “protection” means?  
17. Knew of the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation.

Community representation means?
18. Representing divergent views – hardest single aspect.
19. Balancing different views.
20. Community engagement, finding ways to engage.
21. Community representation is about getting the strongest positives.
22. Strong role to assist business.
23. Like to see bigger focus on working with community and residents.
24. Climate change – council can lead the way.

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues?
25. Generally likes what current council has done.
26. Quality of water – Kyneton.
27. Waterways need to be kept clean.
28. Community-based documentation.
29. Council to act itself to protect natural environment – educating and informing community and business.
30. Ongoing sustainable waste management.
31. Recycling.
32. Single use plastics.
33. Finding ways to engage, as existing has done.  

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide?
34. New CEO – has to be strong on organisational and implementation, people management.
35. Water quality - Kyneton.
36. Gisborne Futures.    

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute?
37. Planning department has improved last 12 months or so.  Area needs to be addressed so not going to VCAT.
38. CEO.
39. Environment and trying to improve – good and better.
40. Educate.
41. Council has a big role to play in practical steps it can do.
42. Sustainability – buy local, jobs for young people.
43. Jobs. Local business. Assist business.
44. Recognition of traditional owners and use of traditional plantings.
45. Arts and Culture – great aspect.
46. Continue to grow – although Gisborne Futures is an issue.
47. Recycling. 

This long-time Kyneton local presents well as a candidate who brings a professional attitude with community connections and involvement.  Some experience gaps in certain areas but overall seems sufficiently well informed to be across most council responsibilities and sounds capable of learning more.  Pleasing to also see his support for environmental issues, and an awareness of Macedon Ranges Shire's declaration as a Distinctive Area and Landscape, which raises expectations that this will be at the forefront with regard to growth and development.  See Affiliations. Stated he was not beholden to party politics.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?    YES. 

Hayden WALSH


Did not respond to MRRA.

Has lived in Kyneton, entire life. 

His candidate statement advises he wants to be a voice for disabled and elderly people, and make life in the Macedon Ranges the best it can be.  Local health authorities, local sports organisations and local businesses.  Transparency.  All good.

Top marks too for the enthusiasm and positives, but taking into account everything that a council has to deal with, especially in 2020 and beyond, that's maybe just not going to be enough. 

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?   No, not at this time.

Jennifer ANDERSON *


* Current Councillor

Elected 2012, 2016

 Lives in Woodend.  Elected 2012 (Mayor 2015).  Re-elected 2016 (Mayor 2017, 2018).

A genuine stand-out in her first term on the 2012-2016 council where for four years, almost always alone, this candidate battled that toxic council with courage, dignity and tenacity.

After re-election in 2016, took up the Mayor's role (elected unopposed) for the critical first two years of this current term.  She continued to excel, leading a cohesive councillor group which began to turn the trainwreck of the previous council around.

A part-time GP, she is compassionate, as well as passionate on sustainability, environment and protecting the special qualities of the Shire, and about supporting community values, local businesses and fair and open processes.

A class candidate and representative who is intelligent, always informed, courageous, a strategic thinker and policy-driven. 

That this candidate alone of all West ward candidates is being targeted by the anonymous Macedon Ranges Life group's "don't vote for Jennifer" campaign (authorised by someone from Mornington) should tell you all you need to know about this candidate, and about the faceless people behind Macedon Ranges Life.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  YES.  A genuine force for good in this Shire.


Janet PEARCE *


* Current Councillor

Elected 2016

Lives Woodend, 20 years.  Part-time nurse / midwife.

Elected 2016 (Mayor 2019, 2020).

Began brilliantly as part of the exciting 2016 council which swept in a new transparency, a new connection with and respect for community, a fresh direction and a more mature way of making decisions.  Not quite as definitive during her two years as Mayor, where she seemed slightly distracted and perhaps took her eye off the ball.  Lost a little ground but is a solid, responsive, out-reaching councillor with an opportunity to re-calibrate if re-elected.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  YES.   Amongst the top four candidates in this ward.



Did not respond to MRRA.

A Kyneton businessman, local farmer and community contributor but available information doesn't suggest sufficient familiarity with the wide-ranging and demanding roles and responsibilities involved in being a councillor in 2020 to generate confidence.  With a new Local Government Act, an array of legal obligations across a spectrum of issues, the complexities of the planning system and the challenges of climate change, carbon neutrality and COVID-19 recovery, it's a beast of a responsibility.  The candidate would need to be bringing a little more to the table to justify supporting him, particularly as other candidates with stronger credentials are running in West ward.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  NO, not in this field. 



Responded to MRRA.

Note: The candidate provided a generous response. However in fairness to other candidates, and due to some duplication of the vision/policy already on his election website, his response has been slightly edited to reflect the format applied to other candidates.  Mr. Wilson's full response to MRRA is available here.

Kyneton local, over 15 years in the Shire.  Broadcast journalist with media, aviation and executive management background.  Also the co-owner of Ellenis Day Spas in Kyneton.

Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities?
1. Locally, an active supporter of numerous community groups, emergency services and organisations. Our businesses also provide direct and financial support. Our policy is that we do not seek acknowledgement or exposure. We keep our involvement and support ‘low-key’ - especially in our work with the disadvantaged and homeless.
2. Served on Regional Tourism Advisory Panels and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship for his community commitment.
3. No affiliations with any political party – there is no place for bias or party politics in local government.

What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council?
4. My broad ranging skills mean that I understand the need for the highest level of probity, governance, financial integrity, planning and innovation.
5. Being able to critically examine issues and situations and think strategically is a core strength.
6. Working locally and in Melbourne - regularly traverses the entire Shire. This broader perspective is important as the challenges ahead will demand that all elected representatives have an intimate knowledge of local issues both within and outside of their Wards.

7. As well as a broadcast journalist, has management experience in infrastructure, aviation, maritime, environmental management, tourism, urban planning, marketing, media and communications. 
8. Experienced in managing multi-million-dollar budgets, bringing the highest level of probity, governance and transparent accountability that is not influenced by political parties.

Participated in council-related activities?
9. Has extensive experience and knowledge of local government processes, including within the local Shire.
10. Has participated in many Council matters including stakeholder workshops, consultations and engagement with state government.
11. Also has been a strong advocate for the ‘Ranges share of tourism funding and support working on numerous projects across the Shire.

What if any changes to the Council Plan?
12. Council Plan is an agglomeration of numerous sub-plans and in places, a pragmatic mix of well-intended policy.  Requires further development.
13. Several of the sub-plans have not been updated for several years and are based on now outdated assumptions (including parts of the February 2020 revision). The post-covid environment requires all aspects of the Plan to be re-examined.

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?
14.  Yes, familiar with Local Government Act and understands its interface with other legislative instruments.  ‘Winky pop’ is the local government version of media sub judice.

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications?
15. Yes, experience with many Planning Schemes including the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme.
16. My experience is as an applicant, adjoining landholder, community member and tourism sector advocate.
17. Greatest failing of local scheme - often sees development proposals in isolation or within a narrow context.

18. Council must improve the planning processes to provide more transparency for communities, better certainty for sustainably appropriate, viable investments and an expedited ‘up-front’ process that enables local communities to work with applications to create the best ‘design-led’ solutions.
19. Example of a Design Guide - produced by another council, successful in influencing the quality of applications. The guide sits alongside the Planning Scheme and is an overt expression of the intent of the scheme. 
20. The smarter, design-led approach also means better quality applications, an end to staged applications (where the subdivision application is separated from the ultimate use and built form) and means that investors and communities are not tied up for months dealing with issues that can (and should) be resolved at the front end.

21.  The Macedon Ranges must be regarded as a location that welcomes high-quality, environmentally sympathetic, investments that benefit the Region, also a place where poor quality design or inappropriate developments will be ‘knocked-out’ early.
22. Planning processes - tap into and consider the enormous knowledge and insight of nearby residents, businesses and communities.
23. Planning must be an integrated process.

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation; “protection” means?  No direct response.

Community representation means?
24. Genuine engagement.
25. Cannot beat local knowledge and insight.
26. Councillors are the community's advocates, in touch, accessible and understand the operations of the Council.
27. Council meetings should move around to all of our towns and villages.
28. Every meeting should open with an 'open mic' session for community members.
29. Councillors should spend some time every month 'hands-on' helping in various departments to better understand the region's needs.
30. Transparency must drive everything.

31. The concept of Councillors only being briefed via the CEO or an Executive Officer is a tragically flawed model and often omits the in-depth knowledge, insight and ideas of front-line staff.

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues?
32. The Macedon Ranges is an 'enviro wonderland' and Council’s role is to take the lead in ensuring our natural assets are protected, celebrated, shared and sustainably showcased.
33. Protecting is not about restricting access or locking people out.
34. Measure and monitor flora, fauna, water and potential risks, positive education and intelligent management, enforcement.

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide?
35.  There are many.
36.  Gisborne’s broad-acre development, heritage ‘clean up’ overlays have advanced without proper integrated planning, proactive consultation and appropriate control frameworks (the amount of decisions based only on ‘desktop assessments’ is scary!)
37. Also a list of critical matters that are currently NOT before Council such as:
37a. The Emergency Management Plan - out of date, not dealing with changes imposed by Covid-19.

37b. The re-activation of tourism and individual town/village plans are also urgent priorities.
37c. Incoming Councillors will need to create a priority list of matters and, in some cases, conduct a review of some of the major items.
38. Staff culture and the appointment of a suitable leader (CEO) are also critical matters.

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute?   [Responses presumed to be included throughout]

In 2008, this candidate was affiliated with Macedon Ranges Residents' Secretariat Ltd.  This was a company that recruited and ran candidates in all wards (a similar situation is occurring in this election with the anonymous group Macedon Ranges Life). 

Apart from seeming to have a solidly Kyneton concept of "local" (Woodend isn't mentioned), at first glance, this candidate seems to have it all sorted. In fact, it sounds almost too good to be true. Together with information on his election website, a picture emerges of a man with very firm opinions and views on a whole range of issues. 

Not trying to be harsh, but digging a little deeper...

One priority seems to be changing planning to streamline approvals of development and investment applications. A Design Guide produced by the City of Melbourne is held up as an example of a type of cure-all for streamlining problems, even though Design Guides aren't standalone solutions and their value may be being slightly over-estimated.  Also, any chance "Gisborne's broad-acre development" could be Gisborne Futures?  

Those Council Plan 'sub-plans' were a surprise because the current CP just has Priorities, Objectives and Actions but even after hard searching, no luck yet finding the sub-plans. No need to stress over CEO and Executive staff-only briefings though, because every council meeting agenda reports the minutes of Assemblies of Councillors (councillor briefing meetings) and, inevitably, there's a crowd of lower level staff at the table as well.  But there may be a problem with "councillors spend time every month 'hands-on' helping in various (council) departments" because the Local Government Act gets so stroppy about councillors straying into staff or operations territory. 

Here's the wrap. A pudding over-egged can be disappointing, but the greatest insight into the vision on offer comes from a statement on the candidate's website that
"Council is a business that is owned by the ratepayers and local residents". 

OK. That's one way of looking at it but in MRRA's view several better candidates, more attuned to the 101 role of a council being local government, democratic representation, service-provider and community focal point, are available in West ward. 

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?  NO.



Responded to MRRA (phone interview).  Summary of comments:

Lives Woodend, about 7 years.  Founder and Chair, International Women's Federation of Commerce and Industry (IWFCI) - since December 1992 - which has been about businesses from its conception. 

Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities?
1. Not locally but engaged with business in the area. 

Member, affiliated with a political party or other special interest/lobby group?
2. Independent / Independent thinking.
 Not endorsed or receiving assistance.

What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council? 
3. 28 years of experience including Apex, international experience, international summits on trade and investment, bringing expertise to local area.  Do it without decimating our towns but bringing prosperity to the area.

Participated in council-related activities?
4. No.

What if any changes to the Council Plan?
5. It's a big question for someone who hasn’t been there
[on council] before.  

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?  
6. Knew the Local Government Act has changed recently but hasn't read it.
7. Did not know "Winky Pop" but stated if she had a conflict she would step back, she would like to think she is transparent.

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications? 
8. No.
9. A lot of people with projects that have been lying around for years - getting ready for council - costs – sometimes too many overlays. 
10. Look at cutting red tape. 
11. Walking around Kyneton, seeing new businesses, encouraged they have been courageous enough to start.
12. Knew that a couple of applications in Kyneton were knocked back, and in Woodend a Freeway Service Centre.
13. Bringing in outsiders, bring people into it. 
14. Lifestyles. Give lifestyle within environment.
15. Allowing tourism attractions.   
16. It’s about championing for this area to be the best.

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation; “protection” means?
17. No.
18. Has been listening to community and farmers – they are saying retain good soil, if building, go to poor soils. 

Community representation means?
19. Community is like a family.
20. Doing your very, very best for them, talking to a lot of people.
21. Give back to the community.

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues?
22. Hopes government gets it right – takes a really good look at it all.
23. Wants to investigate more – see how community feels about it
24. Loves our landscapes, really loves them.  

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide? 
25. CEO (would like to see a local). Too many bureaucrats come from the city, have no idea about Macedon Ranges.

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute?
26. Economic Development – very supportive of.  Prosperity.
27. Rates – far too high.
28. Roads fixed. 
29. Permits – over the top, address how someone sets up tourism, release the spirit of entrepreneurism. 
30. Balance.
31. Jobs – have to have jobs. 

Astonishing!  So unambiguously, utterly focused on economics, entrepreneurs, and lifestyle living.

What also stands out are some significant blanks in knowledge, experience and, apparently, understanding of a council's role and responsibilities, other than as an engine for economics, with planning apparently a means to remove red tape to "release the spirit of entrepreneurship to have a go without fear" and "encourage entrepreneurs to let rip and fly" (both quotes from the candidate in the North Central Review, 26/9/20). 

In MRRA's view, this single-minded approach is not and can not be considered genuine community representation. Connections - to the broader community and to environment - seem to be missing, leading to fears only some interests in the community would be represented.  This is not a candidate MRRA can support, and our recommendation is that neither should electors.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?   NO. 



Responded to MRRA (phone interview).  Summary of comments:

Lives Kyneton town centre, since December 2019.  Grew up in Castlemaine until studies in Melbourne.   Environmental scientist, studying for PhD in housing and development.

Participated local community-related groups and/or volunteer activities?  
1. Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group – farmers online / farmers’ market. 
2. Also interested in Kyneton Community (Neighbourhood) House, Kyneton CFA. 

What experience / qualifications / skills do you hope to bring to council?
3. Has been an elected councillor before (learnt a lot with 5 years at Moreland). 
4. Has previous experience navigating a council organisation, and has experience of appointing a CEO (Moreland) 
5. Improvements to community consultation.

Participated in council-related activities?       
6. Submission to this year's Macedon Ranges budget (found budget costs were not itemised). 
What if any changes to the Council Plan?
7. Knew what a Council Plan is.  Current council going well.

8. Affordable housing - gap?
9. Continue on environmental things – current council already doing many things re climate change – wants to sign on for “climate emergency”

Familiar with Local Government Act, Winky Pop?
10. Is familiar with Act, knows of new Act.  Knows ‘Winky Pop’ – i.e. not pre-determining.  

Experience with the Macedon Ranges planning scheme and planning applications?
11. Structure Plan (Kyneton in particular but also Woodend).
12. Gisborne Futures (wanted to know about consultation standards).
13. Business – Traders upset council doesn’t engage with them. 

Familiar with Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation; “protection” means?
14. Loves that we have ‘difference’.
15. Need to be respectful of landscape.  

16. Environment - Kyneton Treatment Plant discharging effluent into river.

Community representation means?

17. Actively listening to residents and providing an open and welcoming space so everyone can participate.
18. There are numerous platforms to engage with community members and not everyone is comfortable with a community forum or speaking individually - so allowing all different forms means all different voices can be heard. I will then take this consultation and seek to implement that change in the council chamber - it is important to use the correct council processes to get the change that is required.
19. Sometimes, there is a big mismatch between what people thought was going to be delivered and what is going to be delivered. This can happen when Councillors or people do not know the process or it is being manipulated.
20. Community representation also means that there is continued dialogue between me, the residents and council to ensure everyone is on the same page and that we are all headed in the same direction.

Main council responsibilities on environmental issues?

21. Council must lead by example - it must seek to minimise its energy use and waste, utilise renewable energy sources for all its council-owned facilities, like installing solar panels on council offices, community halls, leisure centres.
22. It must also seek to extend that energy alternative to all residents in the Shire - we should learn from our neighbours in Hepburn Shire who have a wind farm.
23. It must sign up and Declare a Climate Emergency to help build a framework on which to propel further investment in environmental issues.
24. It also must strengthen its land-use planning scheme to incentivise and support planning applications which show a high degree of environmental sustainably design. By putting it in the planning scheme, it is showing future applicants the Shire's commitment to maintaining its beautiful natural assets and neighbourhoods.  

Up to 3 matters currently in progress that the new council will decide?
25. Appointment of CEO.  
26. Gisborne Futures.

Up to 5 matters Council needs to focus/improve on most, and where you can contribute?        
27. Governance and accountability.
28. Engagement with community – residents, business.
29. Getting consultation right.
30. Declare a climate emergency.
31. Environment.
32. Gisborne Futures.
33. Kyneton old primary school site – retain for community role (as opposed to commercial).  

On paper, hasn't lived in the Shire long but has an association with it that goes way back.  See Affiliations. Although this candidate would have to be mindful that 'affordable' housing in Macedon Ranges will not be the same as in other areas, her previous experience as a councillor, her professional and environmental credentials and focus on community and consultation make strong recommendations. There is a lot to like.

Candidate information:

Would MRRA vote for this candidate?   YES.   Seems a quality, experienced, empathetic candidate.




At a glance: Candidates MRRA would, and wouldn't, vote for

Note:  On your ballot paper, you must place a different number (from 1 to 8 in West ward) against each candidate's name for your vote to count.

CANDIDATE ASSESSMENT:  Would MRRA Vote For This Candidate?
Jennifer Anderson * YES.  Number one choice.
Mark Ridgeway
Lenka Thompson
Janet Pearce *
YES.  These three candidates are second, third and fourth choices. 
Hayden Walsh No, not at this time. Fifth.
Wes Turner No.  Sixth.
Diana Abruzzi
Brian Wilson
NO and NO.  Seven and eight from us.

* Current councillor 


Political comment on this website relating to these elections is authorized by Louise Whitefield, Macedon Ranges Residents' Association Inc., Registered Office, 2 Dalrymple Road, Gisborne, 3437.