Mount Alexander Shire councillor critical of federal government's handling of marriage equality

UNFAIR: Mount Alexander Shire councillor Christine Henderson was critical of the federal government's handling of marriage equality.
UNFAIR: Mount Alexander Shire councillor Christine Henderson was critical of the federal government's handling of marriage equality.

A Mount Alexander Shire councillor has spoken of the pressure placed on local government during the same-sex marriage postal survey.

“Personally I feel very angry at the federal government for failing to take a stand and do what they're meant to do and debate a matter of national interest which has to be decided at a federal level,” Coliban Ward councillor Christine Henderson said. 

“Instead they've thrown this woolly, inconclusive survey exercise into the community that has generated a huge amount of emotion.”

Her comments follow the resignation of former mayor Sharon Telford last week.

Cr Henderson did not wish to speak on behalf of her former colleague’s reasons for departure but said Ms Telford had been under pressure with “council business”, and her decision to walk away from council was a shock. 

“We're all pretty stunned, sad and shocked, it's just such a pity,” Cr Henderson said.

“She (Ms Telford) gave 100 per cent, was very professional, very well respected and this is a decision that's had a very powerful affect on all of us.” 

The Victorian Electoral Commission confirmed a postal vote by-election would be held to fill the vacancy left by Ms Telford’s resignation.

A by-election will be held because the Tarrengower Ward is a single-councillor ward. 

The VEC said countbacks only occur in multi-councillor wards when more than one eligible candidate remained. 

Stephen Gardner polled 40.82 per cent of the primary vote in the Tarrengower Ward in 2016, compared to Ms Telford’s 59.18 per cent.

Mr Gardner said he will be nominating for the upcoming by-election, suggesting he will promote similar messages to his campaign last year, namely making council more efficient.

“For me as the a representative of Maldon, I would be looking to improve its streetscape,” he said.

It is currently unclear when the postal by-election will be held.

The Bendigo Advertiser has attempted to contact Ms Telford.