The NSW Government today announced a new date for the Local Government elections has been set for Saturday 4 December 2021.
Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock (above)said the decision, after extensive consultation with and advice from the NSW Electoral Commission and NSW Health, has been made in response to the COVID-19 situation.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and current Public Health Orders impacting Greater Sydney, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the Local Government elections until later this year,” Mrs Hancock said.
“We have taken this step to postpone the election to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities, voters, polling staff and candidates.”
The NSW Government has worked with the Electoral Commission and NSW Health to implement a comprehensive plan to allow voters to cast their ballot safely in person, by post or online.
iVote (electronic voting) will also be available for the first time in the local council elections and the NSW Government has implemented changes to pre-poll to ensure that voters have 13 days to cast their ballot, reducing congestion on polling day.
The NSW Government has made available a total of $57 million for the elections in 2021, including $37 million to deliver them in a COVID safe way.
In this election, 5.2 million voters will cast their ballots as around 5,000 candidates vie for 1,200 councillor positions across 125 local councils.
Nominations will open on Monday 25 October 2021 and close on Wednesday 3 November 2021.
Prospective candidates can find more information at the Office of Local Government website at www.olg.nsw.gov.au.
The above is an Office of Government (NSW) media release, Sunday 25 July 2021. See; https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/local-government-elections-postponed/
Here is a Monday 26 July TripleM interview with Gurmesh Singh about this wherein he says he supports the decision but will talk to the Government about issues arising from it; https://www.triplem.com.au/shows/moffee-for-breakfast/catch-up/7f78f20d-1d4e-436f-98b3-ad700163586a
This statement comes from a State Government that claims the following on it’s own web site yet in 12 months has not been able to come up with a “Plan B” for voting using alternative methods such as on-line and/or postal voting;
“Government ensures elections are efficient and cost effective
The NSW Government has worked hard to develop and implement key reforms and provide additional funding to ensure effective and efficient local government elections in 2021.
The 4 September 2021 local government elections will see:
- A new funding model to minimise the financial burden of elections on communities with councils only required to meet the costs directly incurred in running their elections. The State Government has provided $20 million to fund the NSW Electoral Commission’s corporate overheads incurred in running the elections.
- A better alignment between local government and State electoral processes following a review of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005, allowing greater efficiencies in the administration of elections, including through the use of technology and to reduce costs.
- Additional funding to the NSW Electoral Commission to ensure that councils do not have to meet the additional cost of holding COVID-safe elections.
- iVote will be available at council elections administered by the NSW Electoral Commission and operate in the same way it does for State elections.
- The use of a new and innovative method of allocating preferences (the weighted inclusive Gregory method) that will ensure all votes are counted when allocating preferences and allow election results to be reproducible on a recount.
- The ability to reproduce results on a recount will allow councils to use a countback to fill councillor vacancies that occur in the first 18 months following the election instead of holding a costly by-election. Councils need to make a decision to use a countback at the first meeting following the election.
- A requirement for councils to equip councillors with the skills and knowledge to perform their roles effectively, appropriately and ethically by delivering an induction program for councillors in the first six months following the elections and ongoing professional development over the balance of the term. The Government has provided Councillor Induction and Professional Development Guidelines to assist councils to develop and deliver training.”
Yes so “efficient and cost effective” that they have now been postponed for a second time!
An interesting exercise is to see the effect Covid has had on elections around the globe.
First up here is a figure showing the number of national and sub-national elections held during the time of Covid 19 up until 21 July this year
This means “at least 128 countries and territories have decided to hold national or subnational elections despite concerns related to COVID-19 of which at least 107 have held national elections or referendums;
- at least, 56 countries and territories have held elections that were initially postponed due to concerns related to COVID-19 of which at least 29 have held national elections or referendums.”
And secondly here is where they we postponed and why.
This means that as at 21 July last “at least 78 countries and territories across the globe have decided to postpone national and subnational elections due to COVID-19, out of which at least 41 countries and territories have decided to postpone national elections and referendums.”
Full details can be found here; https://www.idea.int/news-media/multimedia-reports/global-overview-covid-19-impact-elections
And here, from the same site is a case study from Albania (yes, Albania) on how they carried out safe elections in a Covid 19 environment;
Yet somehow NSW can’t manage this. Twice!
If you think this is ludicrous and that the LGA elections should be held on September 4, using alternative methods, and/or in Regional NSW only due to the fact it is largely Covid free, then email Minister Hancock at [email protected]