By Jackson Russell
Mitchell Shire’s ward boundaries have changed ahead of the October council elections, with Wallan split at the Hume Freeway and Broadford moving into the north ward.
However, the council’s electoral structure will remain unchanged with three three-councillor wards – north, central and south.
The changes are particularly important for people to note ahead of the council elections in October.
With Wallan split by the freeway, the eastern portion has been transferred to the central ward, which includes Kilmore and Wandong.
Under the new Local Government Act 2020, the Minister for Local Government became responsible for altering council ward boundaries and electoral structure.
A government spokesperson said the new boundaries were put in place in July in line with an electoral representation review report by the Victorian Electoral Commission.
The Minister adopted the uniform multi-member structure option of three three-councillor wards put forward in the review’s report tabled in February.
This altered boundaries to correct imbalances in voter numbers but otherwise left the structure unchanged.
A Victorian Electoral Commission spokesperson said the changes were a result of population trends in Mitchell Shire.
Under the Local Government Act, the number of voters in a ward must not vary by more than 10 per cent from the average for the council, to ensure quality of voting power for all voters.
“Mitchell Shire has rapid and uneven population growth. Growth is concentrated in the south, around Wallan, which is within the Melbourne Urban Growth Boundary, and is low-moderate elsewhere in the shire,” the spokesperson said.
Mitchell Shire’s current structure was established in 2004, but the boundaries have continued to shift south as a result of population changes with the north ward’s area increasing and the south ward’s shrinking.
The last change to Mitchell Shire’s ward boundaries came in 2015 following a subdivision review.
While the number of voters in each ward will not be confirmed until the electoral roll is certified next week, each ward is likely to have about 12,000 voters.
The VEC spokesperson said about 7000 voters, or 20 per cent, of the total enrolment had been transferred from one ward to another.
“As of late last year, north ward’s enrolment was 18.4 per cent below average, while south ward’s enrolment was 18.5 per cent above average. The ward boundaries needed to change to bring the wards back to equality,” the spokesperson said.
A map of the new boundaries is available on the VEC website at www.vec.vic.gov.au/electoral-boundaries/local-councils/mitchell-shire-council