WITH the under 30s accounting for the largest section of the population and more than half women, Orange residents could be forgiven for wondering why 12 men older than 30 represent them.
The Comparative Information on NSW Local Government report, released earlier this week, compared Orange City Council’s representation to the rest of NSW.
Of Orange’s 2012-13 population, about 43 per cent were younger than 30, 38 per cent were aged between 30 and 60 and 19 per cent were older than 60, with women accounting for just more than half.
Orange councillors were spread evenly across the 30-60 and over-60 age groups, with no representatives younger than 30, and no women.
Orange City Council’s most senior councillor at 73 years of age, Russell Turner, said age bore little impact on his ability to represent younger generations.
“I’m still in touch, I believe, through my children and grandchildren and I can understand all the issues - I’m still young at heart,” he said.
Cr Turner believed people younger than 30 were often occupied with careers, marriage, families and other community obligations to think about running for council, while those who were retired had the time to devote.
At the 2012 election, only one of the teams, The Greens, had a female in second position on the ticket and it failed to secure enough of the vote to have Sarah Buckingham elected.
Mrs Buckingham said teams could introduce female candidates higher on the ticket, or female candidates could start their own if they had a policy platform.
But Gail Copping, who ran as an independent candidate four times without success, said the group voting system did not give individual candidates with a platform a fair chance.
“Why should women fill up the gaps on a ticket? It’s still old fashioned,” she said.
Sharon Boog, who served between 1995 and 1999 while she was a single mum, said women often chose to put their families first.
“Perhaps women don’t feel like they have anything to offer, but they certainly do because they balance the debate across the board,” she said.
The council’s most recent serving female councillor, Fiona Rossiter, could not be reached for comment.