LOCAL Government Minister Jeanette Powell has been accused of shielding National Party colleague Tim McCurdy from an election backlash next year with her decision to sack Wangaratta Council.
Cr Julian Fidge said Mr McCurdy could face a voter revolt if the current council was still in place when the Victorian elections were held next year.
Mr McCurdy could already be facing some fallout from his National Party predecessor Ken Jasper’s decision to actively support successful independent candidate Cathy McGowan in the federal seat of Indi.
The Murray Valley electorate held safely by the Nationals is facing significant changes and could be re-named Ovens.
Mrs Powell is the member for Shepparton.
“I can’t understand why the minister would not try to preserve a council that was only elected 11 months ago,” Cr Fidge said.
“There are a whole range of things she could have done, but instead she has done this.
“The re-election of Tim McCurdy might be problematic if you have a council that is still struggling and people are complaining to the local member.
“The minister is afraid the adjustment period we’ve had here will contaminate Tim McCurdy,” he said.
Cr Fidge conceded Wangaratta Council’s issues had a negative impact on outgoing member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella.
Mr McCurdy dismissed suggestions of an election backlash next year.
“It is absolute rubbish. The minister had no choice,” he said.
“The decision to dismiss the council is not in dispute.
“It is a sad day the council has been dismissed, but they left us with no option.”
Mr Jasper, a loyal supporter of former council chief executive Doug Sharp, welcomed the minister’s decision to dismiss the council.