PROSPECTIVE Wimmera councillors will have to disclose their political affiliations and have donations capped under new recommendations in a State Government review.
The Local Government Electoral Review, chaired by former Liberal Member of Parliament Petro Georgiou, made 55 recommendations about local government elections.
Horsham Mayor David Grimble unsuccessfully contested the Nationals pre-selection for Lowan earlier this year.
He said he believed candidates in council elections should make it clear where their allegiances were.
“Even though it’s quite obvious I’m a National Party member that doesn’t influence my decision-making,” Cr Grimble said.
“I’m quite comfortable in talking to all parties and I keep my Nationals membership very distant to my work as a councillor.”
Cr Grimble said it was the duty of all councillors to leave party politics out of the decision-making process while on council.
“I think that first and foremost there’s no room for party politics in local government,” he said.
“We’ve got to be bipartisan and we’ve got to talk to both sides of politics and get the best outcome for the people we represent.”
Cr Grimble encouraged candidates to refrain from accepting donations and fully disclose any if they did.
Yarriambiack councillor Terry Grange said he was a proud Labor Party member, but it had no bearing on his actions as a councillor.
“I wasn’t endorsed or funded by the ALP, they’ve got no influence on me at all,” he said.
“The reality is they don’t endorse councillors in country regions.”
Cr Grange said in the interest of transparency, voters in council elections had a right to know.
He said he had never seen party politics have an effect on Yarriambiack.
“There’s no room for party politics in a council – that’s the problem with a lot of Melbourne councils,” Cr Grange said.
“We’re here to do things for the community.”
Yarriambiack councillor Lisa Woods – a Nationals member – said she opposed councillors disclosing political affiliations.
“It’s just another club or membership, I really don’t think it needs to be disclosed,” she said.
“In local government we are apolitical as much as we can be and we need to be able to work proactively and effectively with the government of the day.
“People are voting for Lisa Woods as a local government councillor, not Lisa Woods potentially a spokesperson for a party.”
Yarriambiack Mayor Andrew McLean said he was indifferent to people disclosing their party memberships.
“I don’t really feel people should be forced to declare their hand,” he said.
Hindmarsh Mayor Rob Gersch said he was not fussed on people disclosing their party affiliations.
“In the bush, we don’t get involved in the politics,” he said.
He said he had no problems with donations to council campaigns, provided they were transparent.