Nic Street,Minister for Local Government
The Local Government Amendment (Elections) Bill 2022 has been tabled today, seeking to introduce compulsory voting for this year’s local government elections as well as simplified preferential voting, often referred to as 1-5 voting, and some vote-saving measures.
Our Government wants to enhance the level of engagement between the Tasmanian public and local government, and to elevate this tier of government to the level it deserves.
At the last local government elections in Tasmania, the voter participation rate was only 58 per cent and we need to improve the community’s engagement with the local government sector.
As a former elected member of Kingborough Council, I understand the importance and value of the decisions made by local councils, which are just as important as those made at State and Federal Government level.
It is a strange anomaly that we don’t require people to vote at local government elections, while it is compulsory and enforceable at Tasmania’s State and Federal elections.
This issue has been well-canvassed over many years, and the legislation timeline is necessary to enable time to design and implement an appropriate information campaign to inform the public of the new requirements for this year’s elections, if passed.
The 2022 local government elections will be held in September and October, which is why it is timely to implement his measure now.
I believe the Local Government Amendment (Elections) Bill 2022 will provide a vital mechanism for the renewal and strengthening of the democratic mandate of councils, at a time when we are working together to equip local governments to support their communities for decades to come, through the Review process.
I look forward to working together with Members from all sides to achieve this important reform.