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Time to Reform Local Council Elections

Kim Booth

Kim Booth  -  Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Tags: Local Government Elections, Electoral Reform, Local Government

Electoral reform to provide for compulsory voting in local government elections and allowing electronic voting is needed to help turn around the worryingly low turn-out of voters in council elections, Greens Leader Kim Booth MP said.

“On one hand the Tasmanian community engaged with their local democracy at unprecedented levels with a total of 476 Tasmanians standing for the position of councillor across the state’s local councils, but on the other hand barely 50 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot,” Mr Booth said.

“We are seeing local councils having to shoulder a broader range of responsibilities devolved from State and Federal tiers including planning responsibilities, provision of services, and also administration of large and complex budgets.  Councillors are making decisions which have real impacts upon people’s immediate quality of life at many levels.”

“Given the extent of these council responsibilities it is a matter of concern that according to the Electoral Commissioner, our turn out rate in local government elections appears to have hit a plateau of around 50 per cent for the last 50 years.”

“We need to turn this around.”

“Electronic voting may help encourage people to engage and exercise their democratic right to have a say, and the state needs to pursue developing a safe and accurate electronic voting system.”

“There is also no good reason not to introduce compulsory voting, just as we have for our other two tiers of elected representation, and the Greens believe these reforms should be in place before Tasmanians are next back at the polls,” Mr Booth said.

The Greens’ comprehensive electoral reform package also would introduce state-based political donation laws providing for real-time disclosure of donations, and caps on amounts raised and expended during campaigns, which would also apply to local government campaigns.