Last year I argued in favour of having wards in the City of Sydney during a referendum to introduce them held in conjunction with the September 2008 City elections.* (I have to declare that I was a Labor candidate for Council – number six on the ticket of ten candidates, and that our team supported a Yes vote in the referendum.) I argued that not having wards meant that Councillors were responsible to voters through their teams, and that having “team” votes meant that it was much more difficult for voters to vote for or against particular Councillors.
I now support having wards more strongly than I did at the election. I used to be against having wards but my view changed since being involved in community groups.
While I used to think that having wards promoted parochialism, this relatively minor point is much weaker than the negatives associated with not having wards. The fact that all nine Councillors represent the entire City of Sydney means that that no particular Councillor (or group of Councillors) is directly responsible to the voters in any particular area of the City. There is no obligation for the issues in any area to be taken up by any Councillor. Read the rest of this entry »