Wingecarribee Shire Council 2016 election results

THE results are in and predictions were correct: Wingecarribee Shire Council will comprise nine male councillors.

The new term of councillors, that will serve the Highlands community until 2020, was announced on Friday evening.

The shire’s new councillors are Duncan Gair, who returns for his sixth term of council; Labor candidate Graham McLaughlin for his third term; newcomers Grahame Andrews and The Greens candidate Gordon Markwart; Larry Whipper for his fifth term; Garry Turland for his second term; Ken Halstead, who previously served on the 2008 and 1995 terms; Ian Scandrett for his second term; and newcomer Peter Nelson, who was second on Councillor Gair’s ticket.

While made up of a diverse group of men with a range of experience, the all-male cohort marks the first time a female councillor has not been elected in more than three decades.

The last time a woman was not represented as an elected member of council was in the 1981-1983 Wingecarribee Shire Council term, following the amalgamation of the shire’s previously separate Moss Vale, Bowral and Mittagong municipalities.

Several prominent women of the Highlands community have recently spoken out about why the political landscape isn’t appealing for women, and shared their insights as to why there was a hesitation among female Highlanders to put their hand up and lead tickets this election.

Of the eight registered groups, not one was led by a woman. Three of the groups had a female candidate listed as their second candidate. Two stood below the line.

Goulburn MP Pru Goward said the recent council election had been disappointing for women. “We need to ensure women are in winnable positions so our council can reflect our community,” she said.

Speaking on the issue, Associate Professor of Public and Environmental Policy Kate Crowley of the University of Tasmania said change was needed to ensure the under-representation of women in local government did not continue.

“Women will participate in political structures that are welcoming to them,” she said. “And it’s fairly easy to organise them so that women don’t want to be involved.”

Associate Professor Crowley said it was more likely issues of concern to women would be overlooked by an all-male council.

“If you don’t have any women there they can’t have any input because they’re not around the table, that’s a given,” she said.

Associate Professor Crowley said hard policy changes including revised legislation and the introduction of gender quotas in politics would help to ensure a fairer representation of women.

Regardless, the community has put its faith in these elected representatives to represent the views of their electorate and will look to them to address all issues of public concern during the coming years.

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