Call to delay council elections by 12 months
GEELONG’S council elections would be put on hold for an entire year under calls for the state government to defer the October vote.
The Municipal Association of Victoria is calling for Victoria to follow the lead of New South Wales and delay its local government elections for a year, because of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
MAV president Coral Ross and chief executive Kerry Thompson met with new Local Government Minister Shaun Leane last week to raise the issue.
“With the current increase in COVID-19 numbers and the subsequent wide-scale lockdown, we are calling on the minister to reconsider holding council elections in October this year,” Cr Ross said.
“Recent feedback has again highlighted the difficulties of ensuring a level playing field for candidates campaigning for election to their council.
“Postponing council elections until 2021 is a sensible and practical decision, for communities, candidates and councils.”
MAV deputy president (rural) Ruth Gstrein said rural and regional councils had reported concerns that some council wards would struggle to find candidates prepared to run under current circumstances.
“Diversity is a key part of a well-functioning democracy,” Cr Gstrein said.
“There is a significant risk that many talented candidates won’t have the time or capacity to stand for council.
“This may be particularly true for women and people of diverse background,” Cr Gstrein said.