Council elections postponed by State Government again. How others managed to do it.

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

_________

CCO comment:

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.”

See; https://www.olg.nsw.gov.au/programs-and-initiatives/local-government-elections-4-september-2021/

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]

At the very least the caretaker period must start from 4 August as was to be the case for the 4 September election date. No extension to this should be allowed.

11 thoughts on “Council elections postponed by State Government again. How others managed to do it.

  1. “In response to Gai Anderson’s suggestion, I have sent the following letter to Shelley Hancock. I’m not holding my breath in anticipation of the Minister’s support:

    Minister,

    You have been made aware, on numerous occasions, of the parlous state of affairs which exists in Coffs Harbour, with respect to the scandalous performance of the current council.
    We have already been denied the right, by the postponement of LGA elections for 12 months, to remove the present council. As a result of your government’s failure to prevent councils from engaging in major new works during the time in which they had held no mandate from the community, Coffs Harbour City councillors have pursued actions which will, almost certainly, create future financial hardship for residents.
    Community members have been relentless in their campaign to limit the damage which the Mayor and her gang could wreak during the last two years, in the hope that we would have the opportunity to remove them from office on September 4. An extension of their illegitimate term in power will now give this council the opportunity to damage our community further.
    There is already major dissatisfaction with the inaction of the government, in relation to this issue, and it is reasonable to suggest that the National Party’s hold on this seat is reducing daily.
    It is imperative, in the interests of enabling a return to democratic local government, that you immediately enact caretaker mode for this council, until we have the belated opportunity to remove them from power in three months’ time.
    Julian May”

    From the Coffs Coast Independent News Facebook site – 25-7-21

  2. Here’s a plausible scenario. The long-term reputation of the C.ex was under threat should it be found as the buyer for Council Chambers. John Rafferty and Denise Knight had a chat. Should the buyer be seen to withdraw the offer, the C.ex would have been considered the likely buyer. No win, and bad public sentiment still sticking. Therefore the publicly unspoken deal was that Denise Knight leads a motion to stop the sale, after which other councillors will follow. No bad publicity for the C.ex.

    If the caretaker period is postponed, the “mongrel political act” and the ugliness of the Chambers’ sale under these circumstances has some of its potency removed. Give it a month, that sale could yet again be on the agenda, if not before.

    With that possible scenario above in mind, which to me is the more likely events as occurred, let’s make it clear that the ugly, mongrel political act of selling the Council Chambers continues until the election date.

    Gurmesh Singh has his backside on the line on this one. If he is to be regarded as a fighter for public decency and representation, then he has to deliver. In the very least, the caretaker period has to remain as is now. He has to fight, and he has to achieve. No excuses, Mr Singh.

    On the positive side, the loan can be sorted, and the Chambers can be sorted by extension of a lease if that’s needed, or an interim council move until permanent premises (in the government precinct as part of the three-point precinct plan) is put in place. The only thing that can stop the so-called CCS is that too much of the idea is constructed. That’s not going to happen, unless, that is, further postponing occurs.

    1. 40c, once again, suggests real-world, feasible scenarios. Since we aren’t allowed to know anything about the currently suspended process of selling the council chambers, we can’t know if his suggestions about the C.ex involvement are accurate, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I’m inclined to accept the credibility of 40c’s assessment.

      I agree that Gurmesh needs to twist Hancock’s arm, and suggest that he might need Barilaro to assist. We have been deserted completely by the state government, and will continue to experience this as long as Coffs is a safe Nationals’ seat.

    2. The purpose of this comment is to re-assert the carefully pre-considered points made in my earlier comment, so those points are not swallowed and lost to qualifiers and vague-outs. The key points are important; these are:

      Beware that the sale of Council Chambers could again be put on the agenda. Should that occur, the positioning of a Chambers sale in the extended three months relies on the public accepting this agenda item as “normal” council proceedings. It isn’t. If anything, and as I’m certain the C.ex is involved, it to me stinks even more for trying it on again under this political umbrella.

      Being aware is essential, as public awareness and rejection of the previous sale “normality” assisted in it being voted down, and the saving of Chambers for the next council.

      The so-called CCS can be stopped. The only thing that can determine the CCS idea more solidly is bricks-and-mortar construction, which requires further election postponing, and much more work by CHCC Management re certificates etc. There is every reason to remain clear and strong and positive. Please, take heart!

  3. You beat me to it Julian. I’ve also sent Shelley Hancock a plea to put in place a caretaker period until 4 December election and have copied it to Gurmesh Singh.

    I invite others to copy and email to M/s Hancock if only to let her know of the widespread dissatisfaction in Coffs Harbour with state government at both levels. A copy should also be sent to Gurmesh Singh.

    Shelly’s email: [email protected]

    Gurmesh’s email: [email protected]

    The Hon. Shelley Hancock,

    Just as with Roslyn Dyball, another correspondent that has written to you regarding this matter, all of my previous correspondence to you has not received any response. Perhaps your minions are not bothering you with such mundane matters.

    Just the same as the residents of Port Macquarie experienced, our council is placing this community into overwhelming debt. This situation may have been avoided had the elections been held on time last year, or at least within the last eleven months when Covid cases in NSW were relatively few.

    Your decision to postpone local government elections for twelve months, in the eyes of Coffs Harbour residents, was a gross overreaction and has given the current council the opportunity to hastily commit the Coffs’ community to the sale of community owned assets for less than their real value, the entering into of $multi-million building contracts, the ‘fire sale’ leasing of Coffs Harbour Airport, start of constructing the proposed Civic and Cultural Space before full development approval and for an ‘estimated’ $84 million, and the decision to borrow $50 million from Westpac Bank at commercial rates, as borrowing money from the State Government’s Tcorp was denied apparently because council cannot fulfil its lending criteria.

    Furthermore, as it is proposed the Cultural and Civic Space will house council administration offices it does not qualify for any State Government assistance funding.

    All of these decisions have been hastily made with the Mayor exercising casting votes due to a ‘hung council’ owing to an incomplete compliment of councillors. In other words, all of these decisions have been made at the whim of one person. How can that be considered democratic? Unsurprisingly, Mayor Knight has announced that she will not be contesting the next election, possibly because as she has gauged community sentiment. Her legacy will be insurmountable debt, neglected infrastructure maintenance (ie roads and bridges throughout the LGA), unsustainably expensive waste and resource recovery systems and related litigation, secrecy, squandered opportunities and most importantly, a divided community.

    This parlous state of affairs in Coffs Harbour can be greatly attributed to the decision taken to delay council elections for twelve months, with this most recent decision to delay elections until 4 December 2021, in the eyes of most Coffs’ citizens, beyond the pale, especially as there has been no Covid outbreak locally.

    As council elections have not been held for five years, in the interest of democracy and the will of the people, important decisions should be deferred until after the next council election in four months time.

    Therefore, I implore you to maintain 4 August, 2021, as the date of commencement of council’s caretaker period until the election to be held on 4 December, 2021. If not state-wide, this restriction could apply only to Coffs Harbour City Council given the position this community finds itself in due to the poor decisions taken by the current council, including those I have described above.

    I trust you will personally get to read this plea and I look forward to your early response.

    (Your Name)

  4. Many thanks to the Editor for publishing this document. Anyone who wishes to copy the letter in total, or copy and amend to suit their own view, is welcome to use this as an email to Ms Hancock. It can be done fairly simply by Googling Shelley Hancock, clicking on “Our Minister – Office of Local Government”, then clicking on “Email: Contact The Minister for Local Government”, and then filling out the e-form provided.

    1. I think we’ve just been Karensplained at!

      Yeah, we know all about political jurisdictions. That’s why we’ve written to Shelley Hancock and Gurmesh Singh.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Coffs Coast Outlook - Your alternative Coffs Coast voice
+ +