Lamenting the likely lack of diversity: White men set to dominate council

MAY MISS OUT: Power to Change leader Gerald Power (right) with Scott Munro team volunteer Mel Flannery at the booths on Saturday. Photo: TRACEY PRISK
MAY MISS OUT: Power to Change leader Gerald Power (right) with Scott Munro team volunteer Mel Flannery at the booths on Saturday. Photo: TRACEY PRISK

ONE of Orange City Council’s main previous criticisms is set to remain largely unchanged if predictions about the shape of the next council come true.

The council’s make-up has attracted concern for its lack of gender and ethnic diversity in the past five years.

Saturday’s poll results so far indicate Joanne McRae should be elected to the council, but she is set to be the lone woman in the 12 councillors.

Ms McRae, who was also the only woman to lead a group, said she was proud to have received strong support from the community.

“At the moment, I think people will vote for people they know and I’m fortunate to have a strong profile,” she said.

“A lot of people talked about wanting to get more females, but they weren’t in positions where they were likely to get elected.”

As for her role, she thought being the only woman could put her in the spotlight and recent political history had shown woman received more scrutiny than men.

But with three brothers and a background in business, Rotary and rugby, Ms McRae thought she was well-equipped.

“I would like to think Orange has elected the people it thinks will represent them well and that’s the responsibility I have,” she said.

Meanwhile Orange’s first indigenous-led ticket will rely on preferences to have leader Gerald Power elected and is not considered likely to succeed.

However, Mr Power said indigenous representation on the council was important to reflect a multicultural community.

“We’ve got a social plan with terms of reference with council that a lot of councillors aren’t aware of,” he said. 

He said a position on the council would draw more attention to indigenous programs to achieve better employment and sustainable tourism.

But Mr Power has not been discouraged and is already thinking about the 2020 campaign and manning more booths.

“It’s been a wonderful journey and I enjoyed every minute of it – I’ll definitely give it another shot,” he said. 

Councillor Reg Kidd, who stills leads the vote for popularly-elected mayor, said the result was “a bit of a shame” from a diversity perspective.

“I’d rather see diversity within the council to represent the diversity in our community,” he said.

He wanted to see female tickets running in three years’ time.