Mitchell Shire councillor Christine Banks resigned last week, sparking the need for a replacement south ward councillor to be appointed. The Victorian Electoral Commission will hold a countback to decide the new south ward councillor.

By Colin MacGillivray

THE Victorian Electoral Commission, VEC, will reassess votes from the 2020 Mitchell Shire Council elections next month after south ward councillor Christine Banks last week resigned from her position.

Cr Banks, who was elected to council for the first time in November 2020, announced last week she would step down, effective immediately, due to ongoing health issues.

“Over the past few months my health has not been good, and that’s the only reason I’ve decided to step down,” she said.

“It’s a very [regrettable] decision, but I’d rather someone else who’s not dealing with chronic pain be able to step in.

“I’ve been proud to serve the community. There’s a lot of good things I’ve been involved in, like fighting the quarry. I’m proud we’re doing that.

“It’s about trying to make a difference by having that voice.”

The VEC confirmed there would be no by-election to fill Cr Banks’ position in the south ward. Instead, it will complete a countback of all formal votes cast in the 2020 election on March 9 this year.

A VEC spokesperson said votes from the 2020 election would be redistributed to candidates who were unsuccessful and remained eligible to participate in the countback.

Former mayor David Lowe received the next highest number of first-preference votes after Cr Banks, with Neal Langborne trailing Mr Lowe by a narrow margin.

The countback is based on the proportional representation method of counting.

“The candidate who achieves the quota will be elected. If no participating candidate achieves the quota following the distribution of votes to participating candidates, the candidate with the highest number of countback votes will be elected,” election manager Charmaine Morel said.

Cr Banks said she had relished her opportunity to be a community advocate and wanted to see her successor do the same.

“I’d like to see that they listen to the people and represent them to the best of their abilities. That’s why they’re there,” she said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time on council and it has been a fantastic learning experience.

“I got a good opportunity to do something for the local community, and everyone I’ve been involved with has been very helpful and understanding.

“The staff and the other councillors have been fantastic.”

Mayor Bill Chisholm thanked Cr Banks for her work as a councillor.

“I want to thank Christine for her time serving the Mitchell community and for her contribution during her time as a councillor,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with her and I wish her and her family all the best for the future.”

The countback will be completed online via Cisco Webex. A link to the countback will be made available on the VEC website from 9.30am on March 9 at vec.vic.gov.au, with the result to be published afterward.

Scrutineers and interested parties may attend and observe the countback.