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Wards skirmish a sign council election is on the way

A by-election held three years ago cost Campbelltown ratepayers more than $500,000.

That’s because Campbelltown is a single ward for local council election purposes and everyone could vote in the by-election, Cr George Greiss told Tuesday night’s ordinary meeting.

The Liberal councillor said that there was a good case for looking into a wards system.

“If we had wards that by-election would have cost us a lot less,’’ Cr Greiss told council.

He said NSW parliament was represented by individual seats across the state and council should be no different.

Cr Greiss was seeking support for the preparation of a report into the benefits of introducing a ward system in Campbelltown.

A referendum would have to be held to approve such a change.

However it was obvious once the debate got under way that the Labor Party councillors would oppose his move, arguing, basically, that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’’.

It was also obvious this was a pre-election skirmish from Cr Greiss (pictured above), with voters set to elect a new council next September.

Independent councillor Warren Morrison spoke briefly in support of Cr Greiss, saying, “I would like to see what such a report would say’’.

But with Labor’s eight councillors holding the balance of power they get their way if they vote as a block, which they did in this case.

Their veteran councillor Meg Oates, who has now been on the council for more than 30 years, said this was not the first time she had heard a suggestion for wards.

“But the current system has worked well because all councillors work in the interests of all of Campbelltown,’’ Cr Oates said.

Cr Oates with the mayor, Cr George Brticevic, in September 2016.

“If we had wards, councillors would be pushing for their own patch, so let’s just stay with a system that has served Campbelltown well.’’

In response, Cr Greiss said he felt that if you got elected, you got elected to serve everyone in Campbelltown, even in a wards system.

“That’s how parliament works, with individual MP representing the interests of their electorates but also the entire state.

“And with a growing population in Campbelltown wards would make it easier to respond to the needs of the residents – and save money if we need a by-election.’’

As expected, when put to the vote Labor’s eight elected representatives put their hands up to oppose Cr Greiss, who only received support from the other two independents at the meeting, Cr Morrison and Cr Ben Moroney, who seconded his motion.

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