Our say | Anything likely now they’ve done their bloc

IF the last term of Bathurst Regional Council was marked by deep divisions within the chamber, then the next term may be even worse.

The seven above-the-line voting tickets on the ballot paper are likely to create something of a scattergun effect when the votes are counted on election night.

It's hard to see more than two or three candidates getting their “quota” for election on primary votes alone, and even harder to see more than one or two lead candidates drawing enough votes to drag their number two onto council.

Throw in the certainty that at least three first-time councillors will be elected and it soon becomes apparent that the final make-up of the new council is far from clear.

While the last council was deeply divided, it was really only split into two camps.

One one side there was the “conservative” bloc of Gary Rush, Michael Coote, Warren Aubin and Greg Westman who saw eye-to-eye on most issues and generally voted as a group.

On the other side – initially, at least - was a very loose coalition of Jess Jennings, Monica Morse, Ian North and Graeme Hanger who were not necessarily cut from the same policy cloth, but who shared a general wariness of the conservatives.

In the middle was the “king maker”, Bobby Bourke.

He was unshackled by strict alliance to anyone else in the chamber, nor was he burdened by personal ambition of ever becoming mayor.

When Cr Bourke voted with the “others”, Cr Morse became mayor.

When he voted with the “conservatives”, Gary Rush took the top job.

The new council may no be so clear-cut.

Rather than two distinct camps, we could end up with four or five – particularly now that Cr Aubin is the last man standing from original conservative bloc of four.

The result could be chaos – particularly in those first few days after the election is declared and jockeying for the mayoral robes gets under way.

Cr Hanger has already said he would run again for mayor if re-elected to council [as surely he will be] while Cr Jennings is another who has not hidden his ambitions. There could well be others.

However, getting any sort of feel how the numbers might fall on the new council is impossible this far out.

Too many variables remain in play – too many, even, for the king maker to work out.