Posted 9/10/12   Updated (photos) 11/10/12 (mrsg link) 17/10/12


Macedon Ranges Shire Council Elections, 2012


Special Feature: 

What You Should Know Before You Vote...


MRRA Home  Result Election 2012 Homepage About Council How Votes Are Counted Candidate Preferences About MRRA

See also candidate responses to Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group questions

See also 3 South Ward candidates' responses to Save Our Suburbs [SOS] planning questions



The Candidates:  Who MRRA Would Vote For


MRRA is entitled, under its Purposes and democratic principles, to form and express views. 


East Ward

South Ward

West Ward

Ward Map


Candidate contact details

2005 Council Election: MRRA Candidate Star Ratings

2008 Council Election: MRRA Candidate Star Ratings

Candidates' Statements - Victorian Electoral Commission:


Note:  Photographs are sourced from candidates' statements, VEC website (as above)


8 Candidates

Candidates (in ballot paper order)

MRRA Assessment



Well known artist, and a fresh face, whose preferences favour current Councillors Henry McLaughlin and Joan Donovan.  Environmental credentials are not known, but could bring some different perspectives to Council.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Mmm... Yes.  Probably.




A previous (resigned), and current, Councillor.  MRRA has never seen eye-to-eye with Morabito or most of his values, and has rated him poorly in the past.

His performance was awful in the 2003 council, when he held the balance of power.  Initially had issues with declaring conflicts of interest, but seems to have improved. At times can seem irrational and secretive, and self-promoting, but does his own thing and will stand alone on issues, even if they are dogs.  Click here to see MRRA's file on Joe Morabito.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Not preferred, but perhaps, maybe, "it's the devil you know..."



A former one-and-a bit-term Councillor, defeated in the 2008 election when he ran with the support of the Sporting Shooters Association.  Surprisingly, the first attribute he claims on his flyer this time is 'environment'.  Rarely spoke in chamber last time around, and made little contribution.  It's difficult to see how he would make one this time, if elected.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Not the worst, but never brilliant either, and not for us.



As Mayor for the past two years, has presided over the disintegration of democracy in the Shire.  Appears to enjoy an executive, presidential style of governance, and is too close to the CEO for us.  Relishes running meetings his way, even if everyone else hates it.  Is said to have development/investment interests. 

On planning, has accepted what officers say, parrotting officers' advice that Council couldn't say 'no' to McDonalds in Gisborne, when it could have. Removing the Restructure Overlay in Macedon seemed to get his full attention but he apparently never saw that ghastly substation installation in Lancefield coming.  Seems to suffer from 'Emperor's New Clothes' syndrome, and can give an impression that being Mayor is more important than listening to the community and ensuring Council is accountable and transparent.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  (Shrug) Only if we had to, and only if he's never made Mayor again.



Ran in 2008 as a member of Macedon Ranges Residents Secretariat Ltd, a company which unsuccessfully ran 10 candidates in that election.  Didn't impress then.

 Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Make up your own mind.

Mr Geoff Neil


One of the "has-beens", a previous Councillor who has been voted in, voted out, voted in, voted out.  MRRA rated him 1 star in 2005, and half a star in 2008 (out of a possible 5 stars). Once called a Bover Boy, he's on the 'blokey' side, and pro-development in a 1950's way. Only thinks "oh-oh, over-development" when applications come up in Romsey - everywhere else is fair game.  Loved being Mayor, and who will ever forget the photo of Mayor Geoff - Mr Can Do - with a phone in each hand, standing on his crowning glory: the Gisborne Call Centre building site?  Eeeuwww. The Shire can't afford to go as far back into the past as we think this candidate would take it.

 Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Been there, done that.  NO



Looked promising, but drifted in the second half of the term.  More experienced now but will need to really lift her game. Stepping away from the Mayor's thinking could be a good start.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  In this field, worth a second chance.


Supporter of a High School in Romsey.  Romsey doesn't have enough population to support a High School, so the corollary is supports growth and development, and economic development. You need to find out how much, what kind and where.  Could be seen as slightly 'single issue' with ramifications but at least recognises the importance of rural land and says 'sustainability', although not what he thinks it means.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Maybe.  Might be better than some.

 * Current Councillors



15 Candidates

In South Ward, all candidates are from Gisborne except 2 each from Bullengarook and Gisborne South.  Most candidates focus solely on Gisborne.  None appear to refer to Macedon and Mt. Macedon, which are also in the ward.  Only the more experienced candidates refer to being a councillor in terms of the whole Shire.

Candidates(in ballot paper order)

MRRA Assessment

Mr Helmut NITZ


Relatively unknown.  We hear he lives on the same street as Franklin.  Is exchanging preferences with Franklin.  Doesn't seem to rate the environment or heritage as a priority, and although one of the few saying 'youth', is not known to have been involved in Council issues before standing. 

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:   Not this time, others preferred.
Ms Michelle MINCHEW


Involved in the Gisborne Roads Group, and other activities.  Has some credentials but watch preferences.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Probably, and definitely before some others.



Caution: This could be a biased comment.  MRRA President - now stood down from office and membership suspended during the election.  You would never die wondering where Brian stands or what he thinks. Has an excellent 'nose' for BS and rodents.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Yes (but we are biased)

Ms Alison JOSEPH


Has taken up arms on community issues before and hasn't been afraid of the big ones. Intelligent and stands up for what she believes in.  Would need to get across all Council issues but would likely be a fast learner.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Yes

Ms Sally PIPER


A plus is that she seems to support improvements in Council's relationship with the community (community engagement).  This is one of the things council is worst at, according to the latest Community Satisfaction Survey.  Doesn't seem to have a strong public profile, or involvement in council issues.  It's a big field, and others appear stronger, but may have potential next time around.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Not this time, others preferred.

Mr Russell MOWATT


Has run for council numerous times.  Over the years, has picked up specific, usually single, issues and run with them, with some success.  Got in late on the Wallaby Run issue, as others - Deb Dunn, Anne Moore, the late David Bromley - fought against/represented the community at VCAT before it happened.  The test would be whether he can shift to dealing  with the wide variety of issues a councillor is confronted with.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Yes, with slight reservations.

Ms Diana RUSSO


Reports are that Diana is a genuine candidate.  Although appearing enthusiastic, she does not seem to have had a prominent role in council or community issues.  It's a big field and there are others who appeal more this time around.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Others appear to have stronger claims.



MRRA rated Guthie 5 stars (out of a possible 5) in both 2005 and 2008.  Has a good knowledge of planning and is a seasoned campaigner for community values. With Letchford and Manning won major changes to the Settlement Strategy, and teamed up with Letchford to be the only two councillors who voted against the McDonalds application.  Is a long-time and committed supporter of protecting Macedon Ranges, and of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8.

Guthrie is almost pedantic about process and detail, and from the Minutes, could hold the record for declaring conflicts of interest.  As for Letchford (below), nothing changes with only two hands in the air.

Those who actually bother to read 'the record' may be surprised at what it says, and the frequency of Guthrie's vote for community and environment.  Had a brain drain with Daly Reserve, needs to commit to changing that decision, if elected. 

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Yes, but there must be more than one or two hands in the air to bring about the change people want.



Seems well-intentioned but it's a big field and there are others who have more appeal at this time.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Others are stronger.



Strong candidate, with a proven record of standing up for the community. Intelligent, efficient, capable, but can let her heart and emotions rule her head at times. A fighter, her courage is undeniable.  Always stepped up on the hard issues, and is now armed with a planning qualification as well. Has been away from council since 2005 and would need to catch up.  Would be more effective, more quickly, with an experienced South Ward councillor in there as well.  The lesson is, it takes 5 to bring about change.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Yes



MRRA gave John Letchford no (zero) stars in 2005.  He improved to 3 stars in 2008.  Can still be erratic at times but, with fellow South Ward councillor Guthrie, worked hard in the last term to head off some of the worst excesses at council, with varying success (being the lone two hands in the air doesn't win the day). Letchford seems to be the only councillor who regularly voted against the "en bloc" motion.

With Guthrie and Manning, successfully made major changes reeling back the Settlement Strategy, and with Guthrie unsuccessfully opposed McDonalds and Amendment C84.  A qualified if academic planner, has been pro-active about protecting Macedon Ranges from urbanisation. Definitely made the wrong decision with Daly Reserve last August, but the record shows better decisions over the previous 45 months of this term.

 Would MRRA vote for  this candidate:  Yes, but opportunities to improve council will be limited without five hands in the air.



Seems well-intentioned, but it's a big field and others have more appeal this time around.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Others appear to have stronger claims.



Is, with Nitz, preferencing Franklin.  New face, but also unknown. 

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Doesn't appeal this time round.



Probably the only candidate who has regularly attended Council meetings when there isn't an election in the wings. Can be a bit of a bull-in-a-china-shop, but doesn't give up. Puts her heart and energy into what she does, and her money where her mouth is. Has by actions demonstrated her belief in community, environment and protecting a rural way of life in Macedon Ranges.  A rough diamond, no frills, what you see is what you get.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Yes. 



He's certainly splashing the cash to get your vote, running an aggressive, personal and offensive campaign more reminiscent of the big parties stabbing each other in the back in inner Melbourne. Hello?  We know he hasn't been here long, but this is Macedon Ranges. That's Strike 1.

Strike 2 is his letter in last week's paper (which read remarkably like a beat-up) accusing sitting councillors of spreading rumours that he's pro-development. Hello?  In a paid ad (Free Press 7/9/12) Mr Franklin himself said he stood for "Economic development and jobs, more support for tourism and local businesses...".  Perhaps if he knew more about what people value around here, he may have recognized the risk of people translating that to "pro-development".

Then came: 'Approving residential development on the slopes of Hanging Rock'.  Wrong. FYI, that was a change to an existing permit near Hanging Rock. 

Guthrie and Letchford approved McDonalds?  Hello? How wrong can you get it?  Guthrie and Letchford alone voted against the McDonalds application, and 200 people witnessed it. Is it that he doesn't know, or is he just being loose with the truth to get elected?

Mr. Franklin's blog (16 July, 2012), where he wafts to and fro between supporting and not supporting McDonalds, confirms he knew the truth:

". ...the big thing for me however is the petition.   It is the thing that has bought me down on the side of the councillors who voted 'nay'.   Cr Letchford, Cr Guthrie, and Cr Neill (sic) heard the community speak with 10000 voices and understood that regardless of the other arguments, the supposed threats from the developer to appeal to VCAT, and appeals to planning law, that the community wanted a particular outcome.  Because I don't have access to all the information, I don't know if I would have agreed with the petitioners or not, but if there are 10000 of them, I would have respected and supported their voice in the chamber." 

We are guessing planning isn't his forte.  At all.  But at least residents now know how many signatures they will need to find to convince Mr. Franklin to not approve development!  

Strike 3:  We wonder if Mr. Franklin is a Labor party stooge. He said he's a member of the ALP, and good on him for that, but there just seems to be something more than "a member of" behind the intensity and no-holds-barred nature of his campaign.  Endorsements from mining executives, and Lindsay Tanner?  Campaigning on the (Federal) NBN?  Putting photos of sitting councillors in his latest election blurt?  Not getting the facts?  Not telling the truth?  Friendlies writing letter after letter?  Does the end justify any means?  Not in Macedon Ranges, Mr. Franklin.

Whatever good attributes the man may have (and he is bound to have some), this campaign seems to have brought out all the worst aspects.

In MRRA's view, the last thing Macedon Ranges needs is someone on council who doesn't seem to know, get it right, have any respect for others or care, and appears to be deeply impressed with their own self-importance.  Been there, done that - don't need any more.

 Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Definitely NOT.  Dare we say the term, "drover's dog", comes to mind? 
* Current Councillors
**  MRRA President.  See About MRRA



6 Candidates


Candidates(in ballot paper order)

MRRA Assessment

Mr Roger JUKES *


Blitzed the field in 2008, running on the Kyneton indoor pool issue.  An unspectacular councillor, and pro-development (particularly economic development) advocate, who in four years hasn't really left an outstanding legacy. Needs to lift his game and keep his eyes on the job. Room for a lot of improvement; may perform better in higher class company.

 Would MRRA vote for this candidate:   A reluctant Yes, because some of the rest are much worse.



One of the elected, unelected, elected, unelected "has-beens":  One term of Mr Harvey on council seems enough for voters to turn elsewhere.  A perennial 'board member', and has outstanding Labor connections and credentials. To be fair, he must be given at least some credit for the abysmal, expensive Kyneton Bowling Club pokies venue (you know, the one that opens its door onto the park).

As Mayor in 2008, he signed a contract with the current CEO, apparently without telling other councillors. 

Has previous form for promoting growth, jobs-jobs-jobs and Kyneton, but if elected, our money is on Mr. Harvey's key priorities being (1) Mr. Harvey, (2) Mr. Harvey, (3) The Party, and (4) mmm... possibly Mr. Harvey.  We remember.

 MRRA awarded candidate Harvey zero stars, and half a star (of a possible 5 stars) for the 2005 and 2008 elections. 

P.S. Do make the effort to ask him if he's close to Villawood, and supports Villawood, before you vote. Click here to see MRRA's Noel Harvey file.   

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Are you serious?  NO... no, No, NO.  Not ever.  Our advice is put Mr Harvey last now, and save yourself the grief of having to wait 4 years to do it. 



Wisely retired gracefully before the 2008 election.  An 'Old Woodend' type, who successfully campaigned against the Romsey pokies yet earlier voted for pokies in Kyneton.

Get him to be precise about where he stands on any large-scale development in Woodend, and any expansion of the town boundary, before you vote.  Best days seem behind him, so no towering expectations here.

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Would be more welcome filling a seat than some others, but fails to excite.



With her background and skills, Ms Hope-Williams' effect on Council would be intriguing to watch.  

Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Different.  Could be interesting. 

Dr Jennifer ANDERSON ***


Caution - this could be a biased comment.  Jennifer's resignation from MRRA was accepted with regret, but we respect her wish to be independent.  She champions community and environment, and her commitment to ethics, and ability to act professionally and get across complex issues, impressed.  Is not afraid to get involved, and will learn quickly. 

 Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Yes.  A class act, stands out in this field (even if we say so ourselves).

Ms Henryka BENSON *


For anyone holding high expectations of Ms Benson as a councillor, this term has probably been a big disappointment. In terms of Labor royalty, Ms Benson is bred in the purple, and is unsurprisingly exchanging preferences with Mr. Harvey.  Mixes council duties with raising 7 children - a challenge indeed.

Has however gained a reputation for being a tad touchy and irritable at times, and although saying she supports women in politics, put the only other women candidates last!  Ah, politics over principles!  No standout council performances come to mind.

 Would MRRA vote for this candidate:  Reluctantly.  Better than Harvey. 
* Current Councillors
***  Ex-MRRA member, resigned before nominating to run as an independent candidate.  See About MRRA.


Political comment on this website relating to elections is authorized by Louise Whitefield, Public Officer, Macedon Ranges Residents' Association Inc., 2 Dalrymple Road, Gisborne, 3437.