Somerset Regional Councillor Sean Choat is riled up about the changes being forced upon ratepayers in the Glamorgan Vale area
Somerset Regional Councillor Sean Choat is riled up about the changes being forced upon ratepayers in the Glamorgan Vale area

Women to be forced appointment on water board

MEN on the committee of a water group near Ipswich could be booted out of their roles at the next election due to a gender equality move forced on them by the state government.

Glamorgan Vale Water Board authority has shared communication mandating the need for an equal number of men and women on its board after the upcoming election.

The legislation also gives state government officials the right to decide who will sit on the local water board.

This will see Glamorgan Vale residents lose the independence they have had for almost 50 years, electing representatives of their choice.

Somerset Councillor Sean Choat, who lives in Glamorgan Vale, said it was a shame.

“It is a shame the State is more concerned with quotas and looking good rather than making a difference for local communities,” Cr Choat said.

In August, Somerset Regional Council actually wrote to the Department of Natural Resources, Mining, and Environment, asking that the changes to legislation be rescinded, but they received no response.

And last week, Glamorgan Vale ratepayers received a letter from the Australian Election Company, announcing nominations were now open for the 2020 water board.

Cr Choat said: “The letter goes on to say that under the minister’s gender policy, equality is to be sought, and it says females are encouraged to nominate for a position. It says nothing about the skills and knowledge required or desired for board positions.”

A similar missive was shared to the Water Board’s Facebook page, announcing the tenure of current board was set to expire in July 2020, and nominations were now open for their replacements.

An excerpt from the post made to the Glamorgan Vale Water Board's facebook page
An excerpt from the post made to the Glamorgan Vale Water Board's facebook page

The Glamorgan Vale Water Board was first established in 1967, and since then, locals have always been able to elect their own representatives to make up the board’s membership.

The board operates as a rural water service provider, piping untreated river water to properties for cleaning and watering purposes.

No information is easily available on the identities of the current board of directors for the Glamorgan Vale Water Board. 

The DNRME website does list the names of the directors who served on the board from August 2013 to August 2016, however, all four of whom appear to be men.

On November 1, the board will celebrate 50 years of supplying this service to the community.

Under the new government guidelines, which came into effect on May 29, it is now mandatory for category 2 bodies - such as the Water Board - to have an equal number of male and female members.

Residents will be able to endorse their preferred candidates through nominations, with candidates requiring at least two nominations to even be considered, but the final decision will be made by government representatives.

“The concern is, if we get one lady and two blokes nominated, then what are they going to do? Just appoint some external person to make up the difference?” Cr Choat said.

“I don’t care who gets the position, man or woman, as long as they’re the best person for the job.”

When the changes were first announced last year, an official petition was formed protesting the move, which gained more than 600 signiatures.

“At the footer [of the letter] there is a statement which says ‘community supporting community’. I’m sure there is a large portion of our community that are feeling less than supported, after feeling overlooked or marginalised from reading this letter,” Cr Choat said.

A unanimous motion was put forth by councillors to write to the government again, this time petitioning both the DNRME Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

The Glamorgan Vale Water Board and the Department have both been contacted for comment.



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