Under the NSW Local Government Act 1993, the City of Newcastle is required to review the distribution of voters across its Local Government Area Wards, and residents are now invited to have their say on proposed changes prior to next year’s Council elections.
Currently, the City of Newcastle has four wards, which each elect three Councillors, plus a popularly elected Lord Mayor, resulting in 13 Councillors.
Under the Local Government Act 1993, the total number of electors in each ward must not vary by more than 10 per cent with another ward.
Significant population growth across Newcastle means several wards no longer meet this threshold.
Councillors voted on Tuesday to place the proposed ward boundary plan on public exhibition for a 42-day period, with a further report to be prepared for the council following the consultation period.
Acting CEO Ken Liddell said extensive planning has gone into the proposed changes.
“When the boundaries of the four wards were drawn up around 25 years ago, the City of Newcastle was a very different place,” he said.
“Since that time, and especially following the last Local Government Election in September 2017, a significant level of development has taken place across the LGA.
“This has led to variation in voter numbers between the wards, which must be amended before the NSW Electoral Commission’s deadline of December this year.
“The process of redistributing voters is not a simple one, with a range of factors that need to be considered including natural boundaries, suburb boundaries, Census districts and future growth projections.
“We are confident the proposed changes represent the best way forward to rectify this situation, and will also ensure this process does not have to be repeated in the short term.”
Under the proposed redistribution, several whole or part suburbs will be moved into different wards in order to comply with the ward variation requirement. These changes will only be relevant when voting in City of Newcastle local government elections.
The proposed ward boundary map is now on public exhibition. A Community Discussion Paper has been developed to help community members better understand the review and any impacts of the proposed changes.
Both documents can be found on the City of Newcastle website
, with hard copies also available from the Council Administration Centre and the city’s network of libraries. Submissions close at midnight on Thursday 10 October 2019.