Shire officers will review a potential reinstatement of the region’s old ward systems, with two dissenting councillors warning the move could be a costly waste of time and effort. Four of six attending Shire of Augusta-Margaret River councillors at last week’s council meeting backed deputy Shire president Julia Meldrum’s call to investigate reintroduction of wards. The meeting heard “consistent feedback” during October’s local government election campaign identified many electors in the shire’s outlying hamlets felt they had no voice in Margaret River-centric decisions. Cr Meldrum said the region’s population growth was channelling many newcomers into towns outside of Margaret River and the review, led by chief executive Stephanie Addison-Brown, was worthwhile. “All councillors should represent the whole shire, but wards councillors have greater understanding of their immediate community and issues,” she said. “It’s for us to look at what comes out of that review because it does do a full analysis of our electors.” The council report noted the Shire would be the only local government to reinstitute wards among a trend to do away with them. Wards were abolished under previous chief executive Gary Evershed amid misgivings from then-Augusta councillors Kim Hastie and Mike Smart who felt the Leeuwin area would lose representation. But speaking before councillors last week, Cr Ian Earl, who was Shire president at the time, said only one elector had nominated from south of Margaret River since that time. “If you want to have representation, you have to nominate,” he said. Cr Earl and colleague Kylie Kennaugh voted against the review because it would tie up officers’ time when Omicron and other issues were important. Cr Kennaugh said no wards let voters choose from all available candidates. “Five years ago, we undertook an intensive review of the ward system, and still to this day I am 100 per cent satisfied we made the right decision to do away with it,” she said. “Revisiting this again would see yet another big spend on ratepayers’ money. And in times that are really uncertain, this is money would be better served in other areas as we help to navigate our community through COVID, as they will need our support. We have tough times ahead.” Cr Kennaugh said it was “bizarre” to go backwards when the council was focusing on breaking down barriers and being more inclusive. Cr Earl also noted the wards system allowed candidates to be elected with as few as 300 votes or unopposed if no one else nominated for the vacancy. Cr Kennaugh said the wards system also allowed people to nominate for election who lived elsewhere in the shire. Shire president Paula Cristoffanini said she was torn on her vote to support the review, because she understood the resources involved. She also noted representation was about more than geography, with gender representation an equally-important issue.