The Territory local government elections, with their new counting system, have delivered for the tiny community of Nyrripi in the Southern Tanami Ward of Central Desert Shire. Nyrripi (at right) now have seat on the council with their local representative, Jacob Spencer. This is a big win for the community as it was from there that the drive for reform of the counting system came.
In 2008 Nyrripi's candidate, Teddy Gibson Jakamarra, won the highest number of first preference votes of any candidate in the ward but failed to get a seat on council. When the community's Local Board realised that the cards were stacked against them because of the exhaustive preferential counting system, they asked the shire to lobby the NT Government about it. The shire councillors listened to a presentation by Dr Will Sanders (ANU and Desert Knowledge CRC, pictured), who showed how the old system favoured large group dominance. Armed with this evidence the shire wrote to Local Government Minister Malarndirri McCarthy requesting the review which ultimately led to Territory-wide reform for the local government electoral system.
The reform also had a definite impact in Alice Springs, says Dr Sanders, reflected in the early election of candidates at either end of the political spectrum: on the 'right', Steve Brown, Eli Melky, Dave Douglas in positions one, two and three, and then on the 'left', the Greens' Jade Kudrenko in position four.
The old system would have favoured the 'centre' candidates earlier. Apart from being well-respected they also had incumbency in their favour, but Liz Martin was not elected till the fifth position, with Brendan Heenan following at seventh behind youthful newcomer Chansey Paech. KIERAN FINNANE reports.