The Legislative Council’s action in banning indicated preferences from how to vote cards, has put paid to the use of dummy candidates but have ignored the main cause of the problem being the “Donkey Vote” which had actually encouraged the use of dummies, (a candidate who gives away a second preference without reciprocation), for candidates drawn at the bottom of the ballot paper.

 Dummies Candidate Ban Click to enlarge

Dummy Candidates Ban
Click to enlarge

A candidate who draws number one has a massive advantage. In point of fact, the last 2 Local Government elections held for Manningham Council, 90% of the candidates who had drawn number one at the top of the ballot paper were elected.


Govt Review Panel Click to enlarge

Govt Review Panel
Click to enlarge

Francis Day wrote to the review committee suggesting that the Robson Rotation of ballot positions be introduced in future local government elections.. “I thought it was really a “no brainer” to introduce the system because it allows each candidate an equal share of every position on the ballot paper. They acknowledged my letter but made no comment on my suggestion which has caused me to question the motives and the intent of the review panel. The only conclusion one can draw with this decision is that they want to make the election a lottery rather than making it possible for the best candidates to be elected and reaffirms my belief that both major parties together with the planning bureaucrats regard councils as obstructive to the future planning of Melbourne and want to replace their aldermen with commissioners as they did back in the late nineties. The Robson Rotation system is so obvious a

solution that is hard to believe why it could not be adopted in Victoria as it has worked so well in Tasmania and the ACT”. Up until now , unless you were drawn at the top of ballot paper, you would need a lot of luck, hard work plus two or more dummies to have a chance of being elected”.

What is Robson rotation?
The Hon. Neil Robson MHA developed and promoted a process for rotating the order of
candidate names on ballot papers for Tasmanian parliamentary elections. The Tasmanian
Electoral Act was amended in 1979 to require multiple versions of the ballot paper so that
each candidate name appeared an equal number of times at the top, the bottom and in other
‘favoured positions’ on the ballot paper. This new process became known as ‘Robson
By rotating the order of candidate names, ballot papers showing preferences marked
sequentially down a column (linear votes) are shared equally by all candidates rather than only favouring the top candidate listed on the single version ballot paper.
Under Robson rotation, the number of versions is equal to the number of candidates in the
column. Robson rotation for 5 candidates is shown below:
1st rotation
(drawn by lot)
5th rotation 2nd rotation 4th rotation 3rd rotation
Candidate A Candidate B Candidate C Candidate D Candidate E
Candidate B Candidate D Candidate A Candidate E Candidate C
Candidate C Candidate A Candidate E Candidate B Candidate D
Candidate D Candidate E Candidate B Candidate C Candidate A
Candidate E Candidate C Candidate D Candidate A Candidate B

Ballot papers are printed and collated so that consecutive ballot papers do not show
candidate names in the same order.
Elections that use Robson rotation
Robson rotation is used for Tasmanian House of Assembly, Legislative Council and local
government elections and ACT Legislative Assembly elections.
Legislative Council and local government election ballot papers list all candidates in one
column. The number of candidates at Legislative Council elections since 1991 has varied from 2 to 11. More than 20 candidates have stood in some local government elections.
House of Assembly and ACT Legislative Assembly election ballot papers include a separate
column for each party or group of candidates. Each column has its own set of rotations – a
three-candidate column will have three rotations and a four-candidate column will have four
Where columns on the House of Assembly ballot paper contain different numbers of
candidates, it is necessary to print enough ballot papers versions for a fair distribution within
each column. For example, 12 versions are required for a ballot paper containing three and
four candidate columns


  1. Mei says:

    My advice to any one seeking election to council is to nominate for the Heidi ward because there usually only about six contestants whereas Koonung and Mullum Mullum wards have had up to 20 contestants in recent elections which means you are virtually entering a lottery especially now that they have changed the rules.
    You can choose to contest any of the wards providing you are a resident of Manningham. A member of our club, who was arguably the most qualified for the position of councillor, was not elected because he did not have any dummies and was drawn at the bottom half of the ballot paper. Your best chance of election is in the Heidi ward.

  2. Lilly says:

    After more than three years of procrastinating the review panel did nothing about dummies. It was the opposition spokesman for Local Government, David Davis, at the eleventh hour, who caused the banning of indicated preferences on the ballot papers. The review panel could have recommended that all candidates sign statutory declarations to confirm that they are not employing dummies, that would have fixed the problem.

    1. Courvent says:

      That could be messy and time consuming and very hard to prove one way or the other. The rotation of positions on ballot papers without the indication of preferences seems like the fairest way to go. Up until the 2002-3 it was a first past the post system which was a whole lot fairer and simpler than what we have today……..KISS

  3. Valcurl says:

    Looking at your link to candidate-promises-and-preferences-2012 there appeared to be dummies in all three wards. In the koonung ward one candidate had several second preference votes. That is not to say they were not genuine but it seems very unusual that a candidate, especially if he/she wanted to be elected, would not want to direct a second preference without receiving one in return.

  4. Nick says:

    It will be disappointing for genuine candidates that have already arranged their second preferences and have spent so much time and money campaigning only to learn at the last moment they have bought a ticket in a lottery.

  5. Herst says:

    There is a good opportunity to be elected in the Heidi Ward because there are usually only 6-8 candidates standing for election. With three councillors to represent Heidi the chances of an eligible candidate being successful look very good.

  6. Hettina says:

    Computers make it quick and easy to rotate candidate ballot positions. Unfortunately the powers that be will not allow the Robson method so we are stuck with this stupid unfair system. How can a candidate win if he/her is on the bottom of the card especially now that how to vote cards have been banned? A candidate in this position should have their $250.00 entrance fee refunded.

  7. Amelia says:

    Good Afternoon,

    It is pleasing to read that Anna Chen has agreed to stand again for election as a councillor in the Koonung Ward of the Manningham council. According to her previous election statement she is a lawyer and has a Master of Laws degree from the University of Melbourne. Anna Chen has also been a volunteer with the Eastern Community Legal Centre and Council’s Access and Equity Advisory Committee. Anna, a Manningham resident for over 10 years, was born in Hong Kong, raised in Taiwan and had migrated to Melbourne in the 1980’S. Now that the council election process has been made a level playing field, thanks to government intervention to remove dummy candidates, residents can rest assured that their vote will directly benefit the candidate they have chosen. Good luck to all the new candidates, we need fresh blood!

    1. Allsop says:

      I could not agree more. The squabblng and the headline seeking must be stopped and the only way we can do that is to vote this mob out. While they had been attending these oversea conferences and interstate junkets they should have been home concentrating on the issues of residents they promised they would represent in their dodgy manifestos. Many of those flyers that you find stuffed in your letterbox, in the last few months, could have been financed by developers.

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