MRC pocketing a pretty penny going to the polls

August 18, 2017

Murray River Council charged $10 to get a map of the boundary electorate earlier this week.

MURRAY River Council has been thrown into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Council has been charging people for a copy of the boundary electorate map ahead of the election on September 9.

Murray Shire and Wakool Shire were amalgamated last year and are now separated into three wards — Moama, Greater Murray and Greater Wakool.

When Mathoura’s Bernie Foran walked into Mathoura’s offices earlier this week and asked for a copy of the boundary map, to find out which ward he belonged to, he was asked to cough up $20.

And was flabbergasted as a result.

‘‘This is absolutely a dictatorship when you have to pay $20 to find out which ward you are voting in,’’ Mr Foran said.

Mr Foran, who doesn’t own a computer, said it was law to cast a vote so he should have access to a free map.

On Tuesday the Riverine Herald purchased a map for $10 (receipt pictured).

MRC’s interim general manager Margot Stork said council was not charging people to view the electoral boundary map.

‘‘The electoral boundary map is available for anyone to view at any one of the council’s offices at Mathoura, Moama, Moulamein or Barham. In addition, a copy of the map appears on the back of our latest community newsletter,’’ she said.

‘‘I can confirm that we have recently had a community member seeking an A1 copy of the map. Under council’s fees and charges policy an A1 copy can be provided at a cost of $20.’’

But that would seem an arbitrary charge as our journalist was not asked for $20, the staff that day seemed happy with $10.

Greater Murray ward candidate and former long-term Murray Shire mayor Tom Weyrich paid $20 for his map, and said it was a ‘‘piss poor’’ effort from the authorities responsible.

‘‘I think it’s simply outrageous,’’ he said.

‘‘It is beyond comprehension that the state government would expect us to have to pay to find out exactly which ward we are in and I can tell you we’ve had a long line of people come to me asking which ward they are in.

‘‘The greatest confusion is between Greater Murray and Moama.

‘‘The state government and the Electoral Commission have done a terrible job informing the community exactly where the boundaries are ... If you are asking me if I think it’s a Murray River Council initiative to charge for the map I would say wholeheartedly that’s the case.

‘‘Why should you have to pay? They’re the ones who set the rules and made the boundaries.’’

Another Greater Murray candidate Geoff Wise said he thought it was ‘‘ludicrous’’.

‘‘We’ve formed a new council with new boundaries, people need to be versed on that, it’s their right,’’ he said.

A spokesperson from the NSW Electoral Commission said it was a ‘‘little bit surprising’’ council was charging people but it was ultimately up to the council to make that decision.

The spokesperson said maps were available online and would be available for viewing at Returning Officer’s Offices and at pre-poll venues from August 28.

Murray River Council covers 11,865 square kilometres with a population of 11,456. Each ward will be represented by three councillors.

In Moama, Chris Bilkey, Gen Campbell, Geoff Mackenzie and Nicole Cohen will vie for a seat, while Tom Weyrich, John Pocklington, Nicole Stenhouse, Geoff Wise and Tony Aquino will contest the Greater Murray ward.

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