In yet another attack on local democracy the NSW government is proposing legislation that would fundamentally alter the way that local council elections are elected.
The proposed law will allow the City of Sydney and any other Council the Government decides, to resolve to hold their local election exclusively by postal vote. This will erode the traditional Election Day turn out, disenfranchise a significant proportion of the voting population and favour wealthy candidates who can afford expensive direct mail campaigns.
Greens MP and Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Local government is coming under a sustained attack from the Coalition, with council elections the new item on the government’s chopping board.
“Allowing local government elections to be held exclusively through the post, will inevitably disenfranchise voters, especially young people and those with impermanent addresses.
“This is yet another attempt to gerrymander the vote in local elections with an exclusive postal voting system almost certain to exclude the most disadvantaged groups in society.
“The Government has failed to provide any safeguard in this proposal to ensure local government elections are run in a genuinely independent, transparent and secure manner.
“While allowing optional postal voting can lead to greater voter turnout, exclusive postal voting delivers the exact opposite.
“If this law passes then some councils will have postal voting while their neighbours won’t, this will create confusion and uncertainty among voters.
“Removing polling day downgrades local council elections and denies candidates and voters the opportunity for direct civic engagement.
“Postal voting is loved by those candidates with big dollars and few local supporters who can pay for a big mail-out but don’t have the local support to staff polling booths.
“The Government needs to be upfront about why they are pursuing this proposal and who the postal voting process advantages.” Mr Shoebridge said
Click here for more information and to see the Local Government Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014 in full.