Posted 8/11/08  Updated 15/11/08



Macedon Ranges Shire Council Elections 2008



MRRA Says: Get a Better Council - Keep It Community, Keep It Rural

On This Page:

Star Rating Results

Why Rate Candidates?

Rating Process - Assessment

Rating Process - The Criteria

Correction: Leader Newspaper

Declaration: MRRA Members


Main Council election page




Rating Results 

The following 'star rating' results are the opinion of Macedon Ranges Residents' Association Inc.


East Ward

  Warning: there may be a third, unidentified MRRS Ltd affiliate in this ward.


Star Rating

Hilary Roberts 4.5

Hugh Tighe 4.5

Joan Donovan 4.0

Patrick Testa 3.5

Henry Bleeck 1.0

Sandra McGregor 1.0

Geoff Neil 0.5

Graham Hackett  (MRRS Ltd) 0.5

Eric Nothard  (MRRS Ltd) 0.5

Joe Morabito  

Did not participate in MRRA survey, therefore not assessed & not rated.   Is swapping preferences with MRRS Ltd affiliates

Henry McLaughlin  

Did not participate in MRRA survey, therefore not assessed & not rated.


South Ward


Star Rating

Rob Guthrie 5.0
Angela Cassar 4.5
John Letchford 3.5
Anne Moore 3.5
Christine Thompson 3.5
Brian Whitefield 3.0
Russell Mowatt 2.0
Helen Relph 0.5
Gerry Shepherd (MRRS Ltd) 0.5
Michael Wiedermann (MRRS Ltd) 0.5
Fritz Boegel (MRRS Ltd) 0.0  -
Deborah Elliott (MRRS Ltd)   Did not participate in MRRA survey, therefore not assessed & not rated.
Ewald Jeske (MRRS Ltd)   Did not participate in MRRA survey, therefore not assessed & not rated.
Christine Roussiyan   Did not participate in MRRA survey, therefore not assessed & not rated.


West Ward



Star Rating

Tom Gyorffy 5.0
Neil Manning 5.0
Liz Livingstone 4.0
Roger Jukes 2.5
Henryka Benson 1.5
Joan Drago 1.5  Note:  Said not affiliated with MRRS but is swapping preferences with MRRS Ltd affiliates
Russell Yardley 1.0
Noel Harvey 0.5
Len Peeler (MRRS Ltd) 0.5
Brian Wilson (MRRS Ltd) 0.5
Alan Todd   Did not participate in MRRA survey, therefore not assessed & not rated.
  Star   Half Star    
(MRRS Ltd) = has an affiliation with Macedon Ranges Residents Secretariat Ltd.



Why MRRA Rated Candidates


The Outcome Of This Election Is Absolutely Critical To Macedon Ranges' Future


This is the most important election Macedon Ranges Shire has ever had. It's not just time to get a better Council, there are other factors and forces at play which, in MRRA's view, could threaten the fabric and future of Macedon Ranges and its community.


Community discontent with the current Council, fear of suburbanization, introduction of a 4 year Council term, and a public company with a development agenda (MRRS Ltd) running for Council - not to mention external influences such as climate change and the financial crisis - underscore how critical our choices will be. As a community, we must get it right!


For MRRA, it's not just about changing councillors, it's about changing attitudes.  Fundamental, deep-seated change.  This election offers an opportunity to take some bold strides in a different direction to that which has dogged the Shire since amalgamation. It's not enough to have one, two, three or even four 'good' Councillors on each successive Council.  It takes at least five to make decisions, to make a difference. 


MRRA believes we need councillors with a fresher and more attuned, more responsible, more inclusive, more responsive, more up-front way of looking at and dealing with issues that affect us all, at local, State and Federal level. 


New capabilities, solid experience.

Better knowledge of 21st century issues.

Different thinking.

A higher level of expertise and diverse skills. 

A more intimate knowledge and understanding of broad community values, and of the issues.

A deeper commitment to this place and its people, the common good and acting in the public interest.

Councillors who know what environment and sustainability mean, know the difference between staying rural and becoming suburban, and are prepared to ask and stand up for what most of the community want.  Imagination.




An ethic of public service.

Excellence instead of mediocrity. 

People we can have confidence in to make the best decisions, most of the time.


Our next Council must think 2050, not 1950, and have an ability and an intention to actively engage and support the community, set higher standards, move away from undesirable Council culture, reverse negatives and set in train a community-endorsed vision for the Shire's future.  The world is changing.  So too must the Macedon Ranges Shire Council.


Macedon Ranges is at the fork in the road.  Voters need to be able to make informed choices. 


With elections now conducted only by postal vote in Macedon Ranges, there is little time for residents and ratepayers to learn about the people who are offering themselves as representatives.  Unlike attendance voting, where there are weeks for voters to inform themselves, with postal voting there are only days between close of candidate nominations and the start of voting. 


At each election, candidates sign up for a variety of reasons, and represent a range of priorities and ambitions.  The Association rated candidates in 2005, and has been asked by many residents to give some guidance about who stands for what in this 2008 election.


MRRA has a keen interest and is actively involved in Council, planning and environmental issues. Our Association also deals with enquiries from the community about a range of subjects. We are involved - and not just when elections roll around - so feel we can legitimately form a view.  We also believe the values MRRA stands for and promotes are shared widely throughout the Macedon Ranges' community.  These values are embodied in our purposes, and are the cornerstone of the Association, what it does and opinions it expresses. They are also the primary test against which we measure candidates.


The Association's purpose in rating candidates is to provide the community with information about candidates as gauged against an identified, broad-based yardstick.  By assessing and rating candidates MRRA has formed an opinion about which candidates best meet MRRA's expectations for improved all-round Council performance.  We are now publishing that opinion, and the basis for it.  Voters will determine whether opinion or basis have merit.  Not everyone will agree.  The important thing is that we let the community know where we are coming from, and what we did to get to the star ratings. 



An Ideal Councillor?


The Ratings Process


The Assessment


MRRA members assessed candidates in all 3 wards in the Shire. 


Prior to assessment, MRRA invited all candidates who were not current Councillors to participate in a phone survey.  22 of 28 candidates took part, and we sincerely thank those who did. All were asked the same questions.  Candidates who for one reason or another did not participate in the survey have not been assessed or rated.  For information about them, voters should contact the candidates.


The survey was designed to 'tease' out candidates on their positions and attitudes towards a wide range of issues, including:

Knowledge of and involvement in Council and community issues; background and skills; affiliations with political parties and with MRRS Ltd or Macedon Ranges' Landowners group; rates, spending and debt, and the Kyneton pool proposal; knowledge, priorities and involvement in environmental issues; where they stood on heritage and landscape protection; what they thought sustainability means; whether they supported Statement of Planning Policy No. 8; their general objectives for population growth and development, and in towns, rural areas and Mt. Macedon; what they thought 'exercising discretion' meant in making planning decisions; whether they support having more strategic planners; Council's social and well-being responsibilities; pokies; how they would improve transparency and accountability; familiarity with declaring conflicts of interest and interests; priorities in decision-making; and their strengths and their vision for the Shire. 

Current Councillors were assessed on their performances and attitudes over the length of their term, and on their voting record on a mix of Council issues. 


The assessment process involved assigning points to candidates based upon their perceived strengths or weaknesses on different issues.  Set points were automatically awarded to each current Councillor in recognition of their participation and role in local government.


For the assessment, as in 2005, candidates were grouped into current Councillors, former Councillors and 'new' candidates to allow for a small number of questions relevant to each category to be included. For example, it made sense to assess only current councillors on consistency in decision-making, and only other candidates on the level of their involvement in Council issues.  With these few exceptions, all candidates were assessed against the same criteria, and all candidates could potentially gain an equal number of points.


Final scores for each candidate in the assessment categories were an average of points awarded divided by the number of times a score was given.  Candidates were not penalized if no score was recorded.  Category totals were then added, and the total (averaged) points scored translated into stars, based on an incremental points/stars scale. Points scored by a candidate had to fall within the numeric range for the final star rating received.  Star ratings are therefore a reflection of MRRA's assessment of how candidates performed over a range of issues.  No candidate achieved a perfect score.


MRRA makes no claims that this was a scientific or statistical process.  While steps were taken to obtain relevant information to feed into the assessment process, in the end it is and always would be subjective: an opinion.


The Criteria


MRRA uses wide-reaching criteria against which to assess candidates.   The criteria are a reflection of MRRA's registered purposes, and encompass issues and objectives the Association and many in the broader community see as important. 


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



Background and Experience

Consistency in decision-making gained points for current Councillors.  Other candidates could score well if involved as a community member in Council/community issues, or had knowledge of/familiarity with a range of issues Council deals with.  Bringing desirable and diverse skills, expertise and experience to Council also scored points.



MRRA believes candidates' affiliations have relevance.  A concern with affiliations is their potential to influence decision-making - for example, would the interests of Macedon Ranges' community or party policy come first?  Most in the community do not want party politics or other agendas invading the local government arena.  Candidates were asked if they were members of, affiliated with or supported by a political party.  MRRA also asked candidates if they were affiliated with or supported by either Macedon Ranges Residents Secretariat Ltd, or the Macedon Ranges Landowners group.  Points were withheld from candidates with such affiliations. 



Candidates gained points for giving priority to broad community interests in decision-making. Strength of purpose and commitment to open government and improving how Council works, having a genuine understanding of what conflict of interest means, and not being a 'single issue' candidate also gained points, as did not being thought likely to contribute to an undesirable Council culture and being seen as a positive influence on Council (existing Councillors). 



Candidates gained points if seen to have an understanding of Council budgeting and rates processes, and of spending rates to reap the most benefit for the community as a whole.


Environment, Landscapes and Heritage

Candidates gained points if considered 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.



Candidates scored points if they were seen to have a background or positive interest in or understanding of planning and planning issues, a 'big picture' approach, a high priority for protecting lifestyle values, a considered approach to growth and development, and an understanding of Councillor responsibilities in making planning decisions.  Candidates scored poorly if supporting high levels of growth and development.


Saying NO To Suburbia, Keeping Macedon Ranges Rural

A fundamental issue considered in the assessment was the candidate's position on keeping Macedon Ranges rural.  Candidates scored points if they seemed to understand Macedon Ranges and its importance as an area of high environmental sensitivity, and supported actions to protect that sensitivity. 



Points went to candidates who had an understanding of or involvement in social or well-being issues for which Council has responsibility.  This section also included a candidate's position on having more pokies in Macedon Ranges, where only those opposed to more pokies gained points.


The 'X' Factor

The 'X' Factor allows a summing up, an overview, of the candidate.  Here are 'big ticket' overall performance and trust issues.  Does the candidate reflect the values expressed in MRRA's purposes, will they do the work and uphold processes; would they put environment and community first?   The last question in the assessment carried the most points for a single question:  "Do you trust this person to make the right decisions about your future?" 




Two MRRA members - Neil Manning and Brian Whitefield - are candidates (West and South ward respectively).  As MRRA does not run candidates, both have taken leave of absence for the duration of the election period.  Neither are active members at this time, and have taken no part in nor have they had any access whatsoever to MRRA's candidate rating processes. 


Note:  MRRA applies the principles of Section 29 (3) of the Local Government Act, which relates to processes that apply to council officers if standing as candidates, as its policy on this matter.




This week's Leader newspaper (5/11/08) incorrectly identifies South Ward candidate Anne Moore as an MRRA member.  The Leader will publish a correction next week.