WITHIN six months after the local government election on September 4, Parramatta voters will be asked if they want a popularly elected lord mayor and how the council should be structured.
At the community meetings – the format yet to be decided – people will be presented with a range of options relating to the councillor and ward makeup of a council led by a popularly-elected lord mayor.
Those options range from having 14 wards of a councillor each, in addition to a lord mayor, to having a lord mayor and 14 councillors with no wards.
Other options are two wards or seven wards.
All options will be presented in detail at the community consultation, with the Parramatta Times informing the public when they will be held.
At present, the lord mayor is elected by councillors who are voted in by electors every four years. The lord mayor’s term is two years.
Present Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer sought to have a referendum on the issue at the upcoming local government election, but councillors decided the issue was too complex to present to the community without detailed analysis of options.
All being well, a referendum detailing the options will be put at the 2024 local government election, so there is a possibility that Parramatta will have a popularly-elected lord mayor by 2028.
Best outcomes for community
North Rocks Ward Councillor Andrew Jefferies, while supporting the concept of a popularly-elected lord mayor, wants the retention of wards to ensure that local representation remained.
“The best outcomes in local government are delivered when the ward councillor lives locally, understands the community needs and is able to properly advocate for the right improvement,” Cr Jefferies told the Times.
“Given the size of the new council and the projected population over the next few decades, it’s a little fanciful to suggest that you could simply introduce a popularly elected mayor, remove the ward structure and all of a sudden, the world is a better place.”
Cr Jefferies was critical of David Borger (Western Sydney director of Sydney Business Chamber), Geoff Lee (Parramatta State MP) and David Elliott (Baulkham Hills MP) for advocating for a popularly-elected lord mayor without suggesting a workable model.
“A popularly elected mayor could easily have been introduced during the Administration period or have been put up by the Administrator as a referendum vote at the 2017 for the community to decide.” he added.
HAVE YOUR SAY IN OUR EXCLOUSIVE POLL. Go to www.parramattatimes.com.au home page to cast your vote about this issue.