(Posted 4/11/05  Last Updated 11/11/05)




Get a Better Council – Our Future Depends On It


Macedon Ranges Shire Council Elections 2005


Please Note:

Leader Newspaper Article Gets Facts Wrong

Today’s Leader newspaper (8/11/05) states on page 5 that Councillors Deb Dunn and Rob Guthrie are members of MRRA.  As neither are nor ever have been members, this is a factually incorrect statement.




East Ward
Candidate Star Rating
Robert Van Loon (4.5)


Megs Hannes-Patterson (2.5)


Sandra McGregor (1.5)


Geoff Neil (1.0)


Harold Draeger (0)

No Stars

Henry Bleeck (0)

No Stars

Joe Morabito (0)

No Stars

êStar óHalf Star

South Ward
Candidate Star Rating
Deb Dunn (5.0)


Rob Guthrie (5.0)


Helen Relph (2.0)


Christine Thompson (1.5)


Barbara Crljen (1.0)


Christine Roussiyan (0.5)


Clem Gillings (0) No Stars
John Letchford (0) No Stars  

êStar óHalf Star


West Ward
Candidate Star Rating
Tom Gyorffy (4.5)


Neil Manning (4.5)


Kate Lawrence (2.5)


Alan Todd (1.5)


John Connor (1.0)


Noel Harvey (0)  No Stars
Peter Russo    Not enough known (not rated)
Leszic  Midro    Not enough known (not rated)

êStar óHalf Star






MRRA’s purpose in rating candidates was to form and express a view about who it thought might bring a more diverse and better balanced range of knowledge, experience, vitality, creativity and expertise to Council.   Commitment to community interests was also an important consideration.   MRRA has always taken an interest in Council issues.  Our representatives have regularly attended Council meetings, including most meetings in 2005, and have seen first-hand how past and present Councillors have performed.  The Association also receives considerable community feedback and consequently felt confident it could legitimately put forward a view based generally upon what candidates have done, not what they might say.


MRRA believes it’s time to get a better Council in Macedon Ranges.


It’s not just about changing people, it’s about changing attitudes.


Community comments and concerns expressed to MRRA are that historically, Macedon Ranges’ Councils have generally been seen to:

Macedon Ranges Shire is at a critical point.


Our next Council will play a pivotal role in determining what the Shire’s future will be:  rural, or suburban.  Unless we have Councillors who are informed about the issues that will shape our future, and are part of and genuinely represent this community, over the next 3 years much of what we value - Victoria values - about Macedon Ranges Shire could be gone, could fall to suburbia.


MRRA’s ‘ideal’ Councillor would be someone who:





The first step was to produce a set of criteria that would provide a logical, pertinent and comprehensive basis for testing candidates (and ultimately, assigning star ratings).   The assessment process took the form of asking members to give their opinion about how the candidates were seen to perform on issues MRRA (and a lot of people in the Macedon Ranges’ community) think are important (for example, good governance, protecting our environment, heritage and community rights - and Saying NO To Suburbia).


The Assessment


The Association conducted an assessment night at the end of October, 2005.   Candidates in all 3 wards in the Shire were assessed.  All MRRA members were invited to assess candidates, and those who participated were considered to be a representative group from all wards in the Shire.   Note: Any MRRA member who is a candidate was automatically ‘stood down’ from the Association upon nomination and took no part in the assessment or rating process.


For the assessment, candidates were grouped into current Councillors, former Councillors and new candidates, and measured against the same criteria.p>


Where there was insufficient information known about a candidate, in fairness to those candidates, they were not rated.   MRRA has instead noted in the rating results that there was ‘not enough known’.


Points were available on a sliding scale for most questions e.g. a value of, say, between 0 and 10.  ‘Good’ performances, as seen within the context of the criteria, were rewarded; similarly, perceived ‘poor’ performances were penalized.  Final scores for each question were an average of total points awarded divided by the number of times a score was given.  Candidates were not penalized if no response was given:  that response was not used in producing final average scores.


Scoring well across all areas, and not losing many points, would see candidates receive high scores.  Most candidates scored strongly in at least one area, but some either didn’t gain (or lost) points in others.  This is reflected in the star ratings, which represent MRRA’s view of how the candidates were seen to perform relative to issues identified in the criteria.


Each candidate who is a current or former Councillor was automatically awarded points in recognition of their participation in local government.  Candidates who live in the ward in which they are running also automatically received points.


The Criteria


MRRA members were asked to give their opinion about candidates on the following issues.


Political Affiliations

Members were asked “Are ‘independent’ candidates preferable to those with political party affiliations?”   If they agreed, points could be deducted from candidates with political party affiliations.  A major concern with such candidates is the potential for affiliations to influence decision-making – for example, would the interests of Macedon Ranges’ community or party policy come first?


Background, Experience and Performance

Councillors and former Councillors thought to be consistent in decision-making gained points, as did candidates who were seen to have been active in Council/local community/planning/environment issues or related groups.  Bringing experience/expertise/skills to Council, and putting wider community interests first, likewise scored points.  A candidate could lose points if they were considered to have contributed to an undesirable ‘Council culture’.  New candidates scored points if seen as knowledgeable about or experienced in Council and other relevant/related issues, and for attending Council meetings in the past year.   Another consideration was whether the candidate lives in the ward in which they are running, particularly given the large size of the wards which now exist (3 candidates live outside the ward they are contesting).  Such candidates forfeited the points automatically awarded to candidates who live ‘locally’.


Environment, Landscapes and Heritage

Candidates gained points if seen to be knowledgeable about water catchment, land management / land degradation, climate change and sustainability issues, and for showing a priority for protecting biodiversity and heritage values.  Candidates also gained points if they were seen to have a priority for protecting rural land and rural landscapes.


Say NO To Suburbia, Keep Macedon Ranges Rural

Points were automatically awarded to current Councillors who voted in support of restoring State level planning protection to Macedon Ranges Shire (July 2004).  Candidates who were seen to have actively supported MRRA’s Keep Macedon Ranges Rural / Say NO to Suburbia campaign also gained points.   Points were deducted from Councillors who voted against MRRA’s recent request to Council for ‘A Rural Shire of High Significance’ signs to be added to existing Shire boundary signs.   Candidates gained points if seen to have a priority for keeping our towns ‘rural’ and protecting township and neighbourhood character but lost points if seen to support ‘high density’ residential subdivision and development in our towns.



Candidates scored points if they were seen to have an understanding of planning and planning issues, a ‘big picture’ approach, and a high priority for protecting lifestyle values.   They lost points if they were seen to be anti-development, and to support development that damages what others value or because it is a ‘good idea’.  Points were also deducted from candidates if they had supported controversial planning proposals such as Helensville (Gisborne), Kyneton Mechanics’ Institute/Kyneton Bowling Club proposals, Juvenile Justice Centre (Malmsbury), logging in the Cobaws, and the Freeway Service Centre in South Gisborne.


The ‘X’ Factor

Members were asked their opinion of how they thought each candidate might perform as a Councillor.  In this section, doubled points could be scored – and lost.   Winners were those candidates who were seen to share MRRA’s priorities and values (as per its Purposes and Say NO To Suburbia campaign) and to understand what is important about Macedon Ranges (i.e. its strengths and weaknesses) and what the community values.  More points were gained if the candidate was seen as someone who would be a strong Councillor, who would ‘do the work’, and uphold proper processes, community rights and legal requirements.  Big points could be lost if the candidate was seen to be a ‘backward step’ – someone who would take Council back to its past, instead of forward.   The final two questions tested confidence in the candidates:   ‘Do you think this person will put environment, heritage, landscape and community values first?’, and ‘Do you think this person will make the ‘right’ decisions about your future?’.