How WA Federal MHR electorates could be linked to form local government regions for the whole of Australia.

This model could be used Australia wide.

Why link Electoral Divisions to Local Governments?

With the concept of removing a tier of government from the Australian scene and the most likely would be the state governments there needs to be some alternatives presented to the people. Any alternative must demonstrate the improvements to government representation and services to and for the people that is beyond the state system. The people need to feel comfortable that they will be governed correctly and that any change will deliver betters services and access to government.

It is accepted, by most, that Australians are over governed and there is massive fiscal waste. It is because of these factors that alternative models for government must demonstrate that the promoted changes will correct these problems and that the people will get better representative government at a price that is lower than the present system. Models will need to present the long-term benefits and promotes the benefits to counter self-interested individuals and groups with no-change motives and who deny any change is needed.

There will be a number of models to choose from but all need to include similar subjects like;

  1. Remove everything that is aligned with the states and retain the federal governments. With about 750 local governments with populations from 168 to about a million what is to be done, leave them or rearrange local government to be part of the holistic government need.
  2. Remove the state, keeping the federal government as it is or change parliamentary representation to create balance and equality nation wide, especially in The Senate.
  3. Create a complete new form of government for Australia based on population and regions encompassing between half a million to three quarters of a million people.
  4. Others to be added ……

This paper will expand on the second sub-statement above, to why local governments should be developed by using the electoral division for federal governments as presents now, mid 2002. A holistic view how each government, local and federal, will complement each other to best serve the electorate.

There are 150 federal electoral divisions in Australia each with a predetermined electoral enrolment that has an in-build population drift factor. This allows boundaries to remain reasonably fixed for some time requiring change only when predetermined factors demand so. Changes to these boundaries generally expand or contract according the population formula adapted by the Australian Electoral Commission. Divisions in mid 2002 have a voter enrolment from about 74,000 to about 90,000; those divisions with the lower enrolments have the greater potential of increasing population.

Local Government region and MHR numbers;

With 150 present divisions this model promotes an increase in MHRs of about 30-40, total about 200 to 210, depending in how the model is adapted. This increase is caused due to the need for equal representation per local government region instead of population, as is the case now. The present division, with the expanding/contraction boundaries, will cease if this model is adopted. Local government boundaries need to fixed as they are at the time of writing.

Australia’s population is about 85% is considered as coastal dwellers. It is concentrated around all capital cities, and within 100 kilometres from the coast, except in an arc from Cairns in Qld westward to just north of Perth then again from Albany (WA) to Port Adelaide and rural populations diminished as one travels further inland. Because of this population dispersal city electoral division are small in geographical size and grow bigger in area the further the division is from the city and coastal areas. This model is based on these demographics and suggests that two (2) city divisions could constitute one (1) local government with about 200,000 people.

These are divisions still have an electoral roll of about 85,000 but could be three or five times the geographical size if Urban Divisions. In this case one local government per division would be most desirable with local government administrative regions within the division. To attain equal federal representation two MHRs per local government region could be considered. With the tyranny of distance, and difficulty in representing and servicing constituents, especially in the national government needs this extra MHR as suggested.

The greatest landmass of Australia is termed the outback, beyond The Black Stump or The Bush, yet those living in these areas are entitled to the same representation, services and benefits as those in the major cities.

To enable this to be done this model presents the same general presentation as the rural solution but local governments will be needed in the centres of population encompassing a determined area.

Using the Division of Kalgoorlie as an example, it covers 80% of WA; there is the need to have local governments at all major centres, Carnarvon. Hedland, Broome, Derby, Halls Creek, Laverton, Meekatharra etc. Again there is the need for an additional MHR possible in a subdivision for the northern centres the other for the remainder.

The Senate;

Australia’s constitution has equal senate representation per state with one per Territory and with the removal of the states the constitution would be changed. It has since post WWII (1950) drifted away from its intended purpose, to represent the States and become a political orientated hall of misrepresentation. It is not a "State’s House of Review" but a political wrestling stadium.

To retain the intention and spirit of the constitution this model suggest one senator per local governments region except for the OUTBACK that would have one for the present electoral division. This could see an additional 10 Senators depending on how the model is adopted to suite the needs. Using this model and Tasmania as an example there could four (4) local governments regions, eight (8) MHRs and two (2) Senators, the present mix in Tasmanian federal representation is four (4) MHRs and twelve (12) Senators.

Following this model each local government area will have one senator, again depending how this model is developed will depend how many will make up The Senate, It should he half the number to The House of Representatives, about 100.

Political Representative Numbers in Australia now;

At present Australians have about 10,000 elected government representatives, some 600 in state governments and 9,000 in local governments and 250 federal, that is a ratio of 1:1,900. Over governed is not the word to describe Australian politics, swamped or overwhelmed by politicians is a better description.

This model presents about 100 local governments with between 10 and 15 elected councillors (alternatives could be forth coming), 3 federal elected representatives will total about 500. The bureaucracy should remain, those disenfranchised with the demise of the states will be about the same being absorbed into local and federal departments, depending again how each level of governments is created and managed.

The success of any change can only be judged by the improvements in government performance and quality of service supplied to the people. It is therefore hoped that by creating a government system based on this model or something similar will produce the improvements the people are entitled to.

The writer and presenter of this model realises that changes will be made to this model and he welcomes this. However the spine of this model is the development of cohesion between local and federal government based on the representation outlined. The body of this model, that is how each local government is created, will depend on those within each local government area. Each council will develop their own guidelines as demanded from those they represent at that level. Each local government will build policies and goal within a national framework that already exists but could be improved on.

Cohesion links between local and federal governments come through council and MHRs and Senator for their region. As there will be a number of local governments throughout Australia that will be bonded by similarity to regional, industrial and other links, one would expect lobby groups to be developed by like minded MHRs and Senators. The reverse of political parties, but could be seen as political lobby groups/parties created across the nation at the federal level for the common purpose. The possibility of this happening is a separate discussion and introduced here to create awareness.

Bob Buick


STATE PERSPECTIVE BASED ON WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Present Local government:

There are about 150 local governments in Western Australia; these vary in population size from 168 (Sandstone) to 159,000 (Joondalup) all of these local governments are encompassed in fifteen federal electoral divisions.

Federal Electoral Divisions:

Each of the fifteen electoral divisions in WA has a population variation from 74,000 (Moore) 86,000 (Stirling). Those electorates that are situated in suburban Perth have little population growth expectation while Moore, Canning, Pearce and other outer metropolitan electorates have.

Aim:

To produce a discussion paper on how to create local government regions in support of removing a tier of government in Australia, that tier being State government.

History:

Australia’s present governmental history is based in the British system with the creation of a nation, The Commonwealth of Australian States, from the colonies in 1901.

Since federation, and especially during the last fifty years, the national government has had to implement legislation to ensure the whole nation has a national approach on health, education, environment and other services that are State government responsibilities. As time progress so greater responsibility was placed on the national government to fund projects and services, thereby further removing responsibility from the states. By the year 2000 almost every portfolio in the national and state governments were duplicated, some even fell into local government at the lowest level of implementation.

Because of this there is a strong voice amongst Australians of the need to design a government system that ensures the people of the nation receive maximum services at the best price and efficiency. The people agree that the removal of the present state governments retaining local governments is the logical outcome.

Removing all that is State:

There will be much opposition and resistance to any changes.

The political minded would identify that state political power base will disappear along with the government and boundaries. Those who cherish a nation’s heritage and history, as the writer does, will oppose the removal of the ‘old colonies’, although when pressed will likely agree that it is old, tired, worn-out and ineffective government.

As each state is a separate identify, with it’s own constitution, so how can this change can be achieved without much pain? If everyone approaches this subject with an open mind with the desire to achieve a better nation, along with effective forms of government, it can be done. This has never been done in democratic nation but Australia is unique as we are the only nation created by concessus.

The process of change could, and maybe should, take five to ten years and follow a sequence that is people friendly, detailed information program, national and state referendums conducted in conjunction with good unambiguous public information. The first question is, "Do you want the states removed?" If YES, then a plebiscite giving two or three alternative two tier governments within three years during a national election. Then, if necessary, a final plebiscite to chose the model for implementation at the next federal election. The national parliament then to select a date when the change over is to take effect.

This maybe a simplistic presentation but the writer is presenting a discussion paper and understands that thousands of hours of detailed research and planning will be needed to carry through any suggestions.

Suggested changes to Local Government boundaries:

The writer has chosen the state of Western Australia as a model to implement the removal of present local government and to develop alternative local government regions to maximise services and responsibilities to the people within their regions.

WA has about 150 local governments, Towns, Council and Shire, these local governments are to supply a service to ratepayers varying from animal refuge to transport, building and deployment approvals to ensuring that local health is maintained at restaurants, road building and maintenance, traffic, sewerage and water, parks and garden are all local government responsibilities and these vary between councils and states, according to needs and wants.

To retain the local government duties and responsibilities but to change their boundaries should be planned and created to combine like-minded responsibilities, for example, rural with rural, inner city with inner city, coastal with coastal and so on.

Using WA the model will demonstrate that this can be easily achieved with minimum disruption to services. In all cases the changes will be made at the head office and administration centres with little disruption at the lower levels of supplying the service. It can also be used to compare the NT and other division in Qld, SA, and western NSW

                                                                  WA country electoral divisions;

Kalgoorlie ………….. 84,000   O’Connor …………… 83,000

Pearce ……………….. 79,000  Forrest ……………….. 82,000

These divisions cover an area greater than 21,000 sq kms (Forrest SW corner) to 2,3000,000 sq kms (Kalgoorlie). A count of present local governments within these divisions has not been made.

All of these divisions have major cities and towns within their boundaries and it is in these localities that local governments offices and administration centres will be concentrated.

Using these electoral divisions to expand the concept of retaining similar sized (area against population) it is suggest that, for equal representation in the national parliament (see below), that there be two MHRs to each division along these lines.

The concept of combining two divisions forming one local government region but retaining the same representation in the federal parliament (MHR) will not deliver equality in the above divisions. It is therefore suggested that there be two MHR to each division, necessitating two electoral sub-divisions in each division, according to population and ease of servicing an area.

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The electoral divisions of Brand and Canning are south and southwest of the metropolitan area of Perth, each having a similar population of 78,000.

Because a single local government can easily service these electorates in government and with an expanding population it falls between Forrest and a metropolitan electoral divisions.

The need to be considered as individual local government regions, retaining the same federal election criteria as a combined division, each with their own MHR and one Senator for both divisions.

 

 

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The metropolitan – urban electoral divisions number nine and it is suggested that Perth, like all present capital cities, be considered as the centre of business and commerce and has a single local government, one MHR and one Senator.

The remaining eight divisions form four local governments with Moore and Cowan, Stirling and Curtin, Swan and Hasluck, and Fremantle and Tangney combining for this purpose.

Each of these electorates have a common boundaries and geographical location to Perth. Each local government will have growth areas and a population base of 160,000 to possibly 200,000 in a decade or two.

National Government;

The Australian parliament has about 150 MHRs, 12 Senators per states and one Senator per Territory under the present constitution. Any changes to removing the States and creating local governments as outline in this paper will require a change to the Australian Constitution.

It is expected that by adopting the formula present here there will be about 110 local governments, 240/250 MHRs and 110 Senators. This gives each local government area, averaging 175,000 people, national representation, in the federal parliament, of two MHRs and one Senator each.

National Politics and Political Parties;

The greatest difficulty to change anything in Australia is a Constitution, be it State of National. The reason is political parties and their philosophies and power base. To achieve a result along the lines present in this paper the political parties must look outside the glass bottle they have created around themselves.

State political parties will be no more, local governments and councillors are generally A-Political except in place like Brisbane where the Brisbane City Council is greater than the Tasmanian government and encompasses nearly a million people. Under these proposal this monster will collapse and return to being the same as other Australian capital cities, another political ditch like that of state governments to be crossed.

The fall and rise of political parties;

The writer is not a political animal but is a cynic and an optimist. He knows that after the washing and the hanging out of any change to government that political parties will rise out of the dust like some Phoenix. There will more smaller parties and independents in the federal parliament that will be created within local governments that will move through to the federal parliament. Maybe the main political parties will regroup and increase their influence to stifle this happening, as happened in the past, but this would be considered unlikely.

The dust settles;

The reader of this paper will surely find errors, omissions and what they consider as fantasies according to their background and aspirations. This paper was not written to appease and individual or group, it was created to promote discuss and ideas to how Australia may consider changing how they are governed. Do Australians have concern for the future for this nation and their offspring who will eventually arrive at a position of reflection and horizon gaze like the writer?

There must be change; there must be a path ahead to improve how we are governed and what services are supplied to the national wants and needs. There needs to be balance and equally for all Australians, but how and when is what must be presented to them. For them to discuss amongst themselves, to look to what they believe is beneficial for their family in the future.

Are we as a people mature and motivated to strive to a point that we demand better government, better services at the price that is effective and the best solution?

I hope so!

Bob Buick

© Monday, 20 May 2002

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