Adelaide City Council has called for input on how its Council representatives are elected and the Property Council has taken the opportunity to advocate for more equitable representation of the business community.
The Property Council submission makes clear the reality that Adelaide City Council is an atypical council; South Australia can be described as a city state, with a clear majority of South Australians living in the metropolitan area. Unlike other Council areas, which are divided by artificial boundaries separating one side of a street from another, the City of Adelaide has a clear and distinct boundary.
The management, operations and representation of the Adelaide City Council is of significant interest to the property industry due to the impact of its decisions on economic growth and investment.
The Adelaide City Centre is comprised two separate rate-payer groups; residential and non-residential. In financial terms, residents are expected to contribute $17.42 million in rates, and business, are expected to contribute $65.11 million in rates to the City of Adelaide in 2012/13 .
Further, the mix of residential and non-residential electors on the electoral role is split at roughly 42/58; 9,721 residential electors (House of Assembly Voter Roll) and 13,528 property and business electors (Council Supplementary Roll).
On this basis, the Property Council has argued for a more equitable distribution of electoral responsibility to business voters. The Property Council submission suggests that the election of Councillors should be broken down to two sectoral wards as follows:
• Sectoral Ward 1 (Residential): residential rate-payers as appear on the House of Assembly Roll; and
• Sectoral Ward 2 (Business): business rate-payers as appear on the Council Supplementary Roll (such as business owners, building owners and those that conduct businesses located in the CBD).
The number of candidates to be elected from each of the two sectoral wards would be split equally (three Councillors for each ward).
Under this model, residential voters would vote for candidates who nominate for the Sectoral Ward 1 and voters on the Council Supplementary Roll would vote for candidates who nominate for the Sectoral Ward 2.
The benefit of this model is that it ensures both rate-payer groups are fairly represented on the Council. Additionally, this reform has the potential to encourage a greater pool of candidates to nominate for Council positions in future elections.
As each group contributes to Council finances through rates, and in recognition of the overall importance of the CBD to the State, the Property Council is of the view that this is the fairest and most equitable model for representation.
The implementation of this model will deliver greater participation and will send a clear message that all key interests in the CBD will be fairly and equitably represented.
We will follow this submission with direct advocacy to ensure that a more equitable electoral system is put in place for this most important of council areas.