Call for care­taker pro­vi­sions

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By LUCY JARVIS

A STATE politi­cian has called for lo­cal gov­ern­ments to adopt care­taker pro­vi­sions dur­ing elec­tion pe­ri­ods.

North Metropoli­tan MLC Pe­ter Kat­sam­ba­nis made a state­ment on the mat­ter in State Par­lia­ment on Oc­to­ber 20, say­ing there needed to be bet­ter stan­dards of gov­er­nance.

“When we have Fed­eral or State gov­ern­ment elec­tions, dur­ing the lead-up to the elec­tions there is a pe­riod known as the care­taker pe­riod,” he said.

“The gov­ern­ment of the day ef­fec­tively goes into a mode of not mak­ing ma­jor de­ci­sions.

“Dur­ing the con­duct of lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions in WA (re­cently) a num­ber of lo­cal gov­ern­ments con­tin­ued to con­duct reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ings.

“Coun­cil­lors who were ac­tu­ally run­ning for elec­tion, and whose bal­lot pa­pers were freely avail­able, were cast­ing their votes on coun­cil mat­ters in for­mal coun­cil meet­ings.”

Mr Kat­sam­ba­nis said that could give the ap­pear­ance of con­flicts of in­ter­est or lead to coun­cil­lors stand­ing for re-elec­tion be­ing ac­cused of us­ing votes to in­flu­ence the out­come of elec­tions.

He said it was not “best prac­tice” and other states had care­taker pro­vi­sions in the lead-up to lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

“WA is unique in the sense that the en­tire coun­cil is not rolled over at the same time – ev­ery two years part of the coun­cil will come up for elec­tion,” he said.

“With a bit of knowl­edge and with good plan­ning, ev­ery coun­cil could de­cide not to have a for­mal coun­cil meet­ing dur­ing the three or four­week pe­riod be­tween the call­ing of nom­i­na­tions, the con­duct of the elec­tion and the dec­la­ra­tion of the polls.

“A coun­cil­lor whose name is on a bal­lot pa­per may sit in the coun­cil cham­ber and make a de­ci­sion.

“We would not tol­er­ate that in State Par­lia­ment and we would not tol­er­ate it in Fed­eral Par­lia­ment; there­fore we should raise the bar and raise the stan­dards for lo­cal gov­ern­ment.”

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