To preference or not to preference ... that is the question.
Candidates for this month’s Greater Shepparton City Council election are split on whether they will publish preferences following a recent move in Victorian Parliament to exclude preferences from the postal voting packs, sent out from today.
But most candidates concede that, like the 2012 election, preferences would play an important role in which nine of the 29 candidates will be elected later this month.
At the 2012 election, only Les Oroszvary was elected on first preference votes, while preferences were important in electing Dinny Adem and Chris Hazelman on countbacks.
Fern Summer said only one of the outgoing councillors would be getting a preference on her ticket — she has said she will preference Mr Adem second, but none of the other four.
‘‘I think we need new blood,’’ she said.
‘‘I will definitely be releasing preferences at least online.
‘‘Dinny is the only councillor I think should be re-elected.’’
Ms Summer said there was a ‘‘huge risk of informal votes’’ and thought the result would be interesting and ‘‘probably more democratic’’.
Mr Adem, who said he would also be releasing preferences most likely online tomorrow, said the preferences remained important in informing voters of each candidate’s ‘‘preferred council’’.
‘‘I’m not using it as a tool to get elected,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s more about the formation of the council, who I’d like to see on that council.’’
He said it would be less of a tool and place power back into the hands of voters.
Mr Hazelman, who was critical of the move to remove preferences from voting packs, said he wasn’t intending on releasing a how to vote card and questioned how it would benefit candidates.
‘‘I think the decision will result in a higher than usual number of informal votes.
‘‘I’m not going to be publishing preferences.
‘‘It’s a bit of a pointless exercise to publish one, I’m more than happy to leave that decision to the voters themselves and give a commitment to work with whoever the voters elect.’’
Mr Hazelman said in the past the preference card had been ‘‘incredibly powerful’’, but its removal from voting packs would eliminate any ‘‘frantic rush to do preference deals’’.
‘‘This time around, candidates can’t rely on that, and need to be more positive in getting their message out.’’
But he also said a how to vote card could work against incumbents in highlighting candidates they may be unable to work with.
Jenny Houlihan said she will print out and distribute how to vote cards.
Candidate Darren Linton said he would not be publishing preferences, instead pledging to work with anyone elected in a constructive way.
‘‘It is up to voters to read the candidate statements and determine those who can also work as part of a team that is focused on outcomes rather than personalities or a narrow agenda,’’ he said.
Kim O’Keeffe and Anthony Brophy have determined they will preference each other second.
Ms O’Keeffe said both candidates’ visions for Greater Shepparton remained similar and that their skills would complement one another’s on the council.