Local government in Geelong has a very long and interesting history.
In the beginning...
Geelong became a local government entity under the Incorporation of the Town of Geelong Act (an Act of NSW Parliament) on 12 October 1849. In 1999 Geelong celebrated its 150th anniversary.
The Town of Geelong Act allowed the citizens of Geelong to elect their own Council and govern the local area. This happened before Victoria was proclaimed a State in 1851.
Communities developed in the surrounding areas which saw a number of Councils created in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Geelong and the surrounding region developed in leaps and bounds from this time.
Local government reform
Victoria's Local Government reform began in 1993 when the State Government introduced legislation to combine more than 200 small local Councils into 78 larger Councils (now 79).
Geelong was the first region to go through amalgamation. Six local Councils and part of a seventh (Barrabool) were formed into one large municipality called the City of Greater Geelong (18 May 1993).
The six previous Councils were:
- Bellarine Rural City Council
- Corio Shire Council
- Geelong City Council
- Geelong West City Council
- Newtown City Council
- South Barwon City Council
Between 1993 and 1995 the City of Greater Geelong was governed by four Commissioners. Appointed by the State, the Commissioners were paid Government representatives rather than Councillors elected by the people. Their key role was to oversee the smooth running of the amalgamation process.
1995 Election of councillors
Since that time the structure of the Council has undergone some significant changes. In March 1995, the new City of Greater Geelong held its first election.
Twelve Councillors were elected, with each Councillor representing one Ward.
In late 1997 the Council was restructured once more by the State Government. The second Council from 1998 was governed by nine Councillors.
There were five District Councillors elected by the whole population, and four Ward Councillors representing the people in a particular area of the municipality.
In March 2001, the Council reverted to a twelve Ward system.
A further review took place in 2008 however the structure remained the same although ward boundaries were modified.
There were twelve Councillors, each representing one Ward and also one popularly elected Mayor. The popularly elected Mayor model was introduced in Geelong in 2012 following an amendment to the City of Greater Geelong Act 1993.
Period of Administration
The Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins MP, appointed Mr Terry Moran AC (Chair), Ms Jude Munro AO and Ms Fran O’Brien QC as Commissioners to inquire into certain matters at the Greater Geelong City Council. This appointment was in response to findings of the Workplace Culture Review conducted by Susan Halliday.
Greater Geelong City Council dismissed following the Commission of Inquiry’s three month investigation into council’s governance, administration and culture. Yehudi Blacher was sworn in as interim administrator on Saturday 16 April, 2016.
Dr Kathy Alexander (chair), Laurinda Gardner and Peter Dorling were appointed as Administrators to run the City of Greater Geelong in place of the council and address the recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry report.
Citizen’s Jury established to recommend future design of the City of Greater Geelong. The Jury was tasked to consider how the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were to be elected, the number of councillors required and the representative structure, that is, whether the municipality was to be subdivided or not and composition of the wards.
The Citizen’s Jury delivered their recommendations to the State Government.
City of Greater Geelong Amendment Bill was passed by parliament to proceed with the structure proposed by the Citizen’s Jury effective from the election in October 2017.
The structure comprised of eleven councillors including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor to be elected by the councillors for a two year term. Councillors are to be elected from four wards, three consisting of three councillors and one ward consisting of two councillors.
The Minister for Local Government gazettes the new electoral boundaries effective from 29 June 2017. The boundaries are in line with the independent review conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission in 2016:
Windemere Ward - represented by two councillors takes in the northern and part of the western area of the municipality, including Norlane, Corio and Lara.
Brownbill Ward - represented by three councillors, including central Geelong up to Bell Park and south to the Barwon River.
Bellarine Ward - represented by three councillors extends from Moolap across the Bellarine Peninsula.
Kardinia Ward - represented by three councillors covers the south-west region, including Highton, Grovedale and Armstrong Creek.
October 2017 - Return of Council
Following the General Election held 28 October 2017, 11 councillors were sworn in at the Special Council Meeting of 14 November 2017.