Community not consulted on proposed local government reforms
Published: 27 Mar 2019
Council is alarmed residents haven’t been consulted on proposed state-wide local government changes, including compulsory preferential voting for elections.
If compulsory preferential voting is introduced, voters at next year’s council elections would have to number all candidates on a Senate-style ballot sheet.
If there were 37 councillor candidates, as was the case at the last Mackay Regional Council elections in 2016, voters would have to number their preferences from one to 37.
This has the potential to create mass confusion with voters, increasing the rate of informal “donkey” votes, and delay voting by weeks or even months.
A raft of local government reforms is being proposed by the State Government’s Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs in the wake of the Belcarra Report.
The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) is taking the lead on opposing some of the proposed changes, with councils also being asked for their input.
The matter was considered by an ordinary meeting today, with Mayor Greg Williamson and Deputy Mayor Amanda Camm endorsed to attend an LGAQ general meeting on April 2.
Council’s votes on various resolutions to be considered at the LGAQ meeting were also endorsed.
“These proposed local government reforms will have a huge impact on councils and residents, including a financial burden,’’ Mayor Williamson said.
“We are alarmed there was limited consultation with the LGAQ and councils by the State Government before the proposed reforms were released, and no consultation with residents,’’ he said.
Cr Williamson said another concern was a proposal that councils would have to reimburse $1.57 per vote for candidates who secured more than four per cent of the primary vote.
“Local government elections are already funded by local government and this proposal would add to the financial burden on council and rate payers,’’ he said.
“Add to that the extra weeks of counting the preferences and the cost to rate payers will go through the roof.”
Today’s resolution called on the Queensland Government to withhold from any proposed changes matters relating to voting method, the ability for a candidate to stand both for mayor and councillor, and public funding of election campaigns.
Council noted these proposed changes did not appear to link to Belcarra or other report recommendations and requested full public consultation be undertaken on these before considering any legislative changes.
Today’s meeting also resolved to promote the proposed reform changes to the general public, so residents were aware of the impact of potential changes and their views could be considered.
Anyone wanting to view the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs paper on local government reforms can do so online at mackay.qld.gov.au/lgreforms