Call to de­lay coun­cil elec­tions by 12 months

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - HARRISON TIPPET

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.

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