Representation reviews

A representation review ensures that the electoral structure of a local council provides fair and equitable representation for all voters. The Local Government Act 1989 requires the VEC to review each council before every third general election. This is approximately every 12 years. Unscheduled reviews can also take place when required.

A review considers:

  • the appropriate number of councillors
  • whether the municipality should be unsubdivided, with councillors elected from the whole municipality, or subdivided into wards and
  • if subdivided, the number of wards, ward boundaries, the number of councillors per ward and possible ward names.

When the review is complete, we make a final recommendation to the Minister for Local Government. Any changes to the electoral structure of the council then apply at the next general election.

The representation review process

Preliminary submissions period

The VEC accepts written submissions from the public at the start of the review for a period of 28 days. Anyone can contribute their views and local knowledge.

Public information sessions are held for people interested in the review process early in this period.

Preliminary report released The VEC presents at least one option for the municipality’s electoral structure in the preliminary report, based on our own research and public submissions.
Response submissions period The VEC accepts submissions responding to the option/s in the preliminary report for a period of 28 days.
Public hearing held A public hearing is held for people who request to speak in support of their response submission.
Final report released The VEC presents a recommended structure for the Minister for Local Government in the final report.

One vote, one value

All votes should have the same value. The purpose of a representation review is fair and equitable representation for all voters.

The VEC achieves this by following three main principles:

  1. Ensuring the number of voters represented by each councillor is within 10% of the average number of voters per councillor for that municipality.

Over time, population changes can lead to some wards in subdivided municipalities having larger or smaller numbers of voters. During a review, we correct any imbalances and also take into account likely population changes to ensure ward boundaries provide equitable representation for as long as possible.

  1. Taking a consistent, State-wide approach to the total number of councillors.

The VEC compares the number of councillors of the municipality under review with councils of a similar size and category. We also consider any special circumstances that could allow the municipality being reviewed to have more or less councillors than similar municipalities.

  1. Ensuring communities of interest are as fairly represented as possible.

The electoral structure of a council should reflect the populations and diversities of interest in the municipality. This allows elected councillors to be more effective representatives of the people and interests in their particular municipality or ward.

Limitations of a representation review

A representation review cannot:

  • change the external boundaries of the municipality
  • divide municipalities or
  • combine municipalities

These changes can only be made by an Order in Council.

Developing recommendations

The VEC bases its recommendations on a number of factors, including:

  • internal research on the municipality under review
  • careful consideration of all input from the public
  • experience conducting previous representation reviews of local councils and similar reviews for State elections
  • expertise in mapping, demography and local government
  • advice from consultants with extensive experience in local government.

Public involvement

Input from members of the public is a valued part of the review process. There are three main opportunities for you to have your say:

  • in a preliminary public submission
  • in a response submission to the preliminary report and
  • if you request to speak in your response submission, at a public hearing to be held in your local area.

The VEC produces a Guide for Submissions for each review, with all the key dates and details to help you make a submission.

Accessing reports

During a review, the preliminary report will be available via the list of current representation reviews.

After a review, the final report will be available via the list of past representation reviews.

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