MORE than half of the 17 candidates in the keenly contested Red Hill ward byelection have been denied the chance to meet representatives of six ward residents’ associations and a shire-wide “post office” organisation.
Only those candidates with an address in the ward – which takes in some 45 per cent of the Mornington Peninsula – were invited to put their views to a meeting last Thursday of the Red Hill Ward Consultative Group.
One “local” candidate, Barbara Porter, did not receive an invitation as it was considered she does not spend much time in the ward.
The groups that make up the Red Hill Ward Consultative Group represent Flinders, Somers, Shoreham, Balnarring beach, Cape Schanck, Red Hill and an organisation called Peninsula Exchange (PenEx), effectively an electronic “post office”, which many Mornington Peninsula community groups and individuals use to share information.
After listening to the seven candidates – Michael Treadwell, Shawn Jackson, Tim Wood, Kylie Greer, Alastair Young, Mark Fancett and Kerry Watson – the committee conducted its own poll to decide who it would like to become their ward councillor.
Tim Wood came first, followed by Kerry Watson and Mark Fancett.
The nine non-ward candidates not invited to attend were Leigh Eustace, Rose Ljubicic, Brian Morgan, Kate Roper, Leigh Coleman, Neale Adams, Bryan Payne, Peter Holloway and Darren Andrew.
The recommendation to vote for Mr Wood, Ms Watson and Mr Fancett will be conveyed to the members of the individual ward group organisations, largely by email. People and groups on PenEx’s shire-wide mailing list will also likely receive the recommendation.
This recommendation could be crucial to the election outcome and will certainly disadvantage the non-ward candidates.
Leigh Eustace, a candidate who was not invited to the meeting because he lives in Mt Eliza, said the process was “certainly undemocratic”.
“I’m gobsmacked, they didn’t give me a chance. I’ve spent years [as a former councillor] fighting for them, so it’s not as if I’m unknown.”
Mr Eustace said that while it was “legally correct and valid” for those living outside the ward to nominate for the seat the consultative committee appeared biased in its approach.
The consultative committee was formed several years ago so that the ward councillor, then Frank Martin, could regularly meet members of residents’ association across the ward.
David Harrison and Keith Platt