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Shire of Harvey to review councillor responsibilities amid planned reduction in number of elected members

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Sean Van Der WielenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
The Shire of Harvey is reviewing how many groups councillors are on.
Camera IconThe Shire of Harvey is reviewing how many groups councillors are on. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/South Western Times

The commitments of Shire of Harvey councillors are set to be investigated amidst concerns about the workload for the next council.

The representation of elected members on various committees and advisory groups in the shire will be reviewed after current councillors raised concerns about the impact of local government reforms which will reduce the number of elected members from 13 to nine over the next three years.

The move was initiated by deputy shire president Michelle Campbell at the December 20 meeting, who believed it was prudent the current commitments and obligations of councillors be reviewed to determine whether some of the positions should continue.

“I acknowledge that some of the councillors’ representation on these committees has been long-standing,” she said.

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“However, I believe there will need to be a more balanced approach whilst still maintaining the link to the various community groups and in some cases I believe this can be achieved through the mechanisms of the advisory groups.”

The Shire of Harvey currently has five council committees which deal with matters such as auditing and emergency management, and 12 partnership committees for groups such as the Harvey-Bunbury Regional Council and Peel-Harvey Catchment Council.

It also has 18 advisory groups dealing with matters from disability and inclusion to council-operated recreation centres, and 23 committees where councillors are delegates, including on the boards of Morrissey Homestead and Harvey Community Radio.

Cr Campbell wanted to have any required changes locked in before this year’s local government elections on October 21, when two council positions will be axed.

However, councillor Robyn Coleman called for the review to be held after the new council was in place.

“I think to do a review prior to the October elections could be upsetting for a lot of our community groups,” she said.

“I suggest we wait until the elections to see who is elected because it is after that event that all of our committees are up for negotiation.”

Cr Campbell argued there would not be enough time for the new council to make a decision.

“We are generally up the following day or two days after to nominate council delegates, so really there is not enough time post the elections to go through this process,” she said.

Cr John Bromham said he could understand Cr Coleman’s position but it was “imperative” to have plans for the next council.

“We may have a lot of new councillors come on after October; we don’t really know what the situation is and they would be ill-prepared to make these types of decisions, so I think we need to look at this as a strategic move and therefore have a position that we can go forward with,” he said.

Cr Wendy Dickinson said the review would provide an opportunity to liaise and clarify with community organisations the roles of the local government representatives.

“I am a council delegate on a number ... that are listed and the requirement of the council varies greatly,” she said.

Shire staff told the council it could not reduce the number of committees due to legislative requirements and recommended it keep its positions on the partnership committees.

Cr Campbell’s motion was carried 10-1, with Cr Coleman the sole dissenter.

Elected members will convene in April to review councillor representations, with a report outlining potential changes to be presented in May.

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