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Local government legislation amendment bill

Purpose

This bulletin is to advise local governments of the amendments contained in the Local Government Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 (Bill), passed by the Legislative Assembly on 27 August 2014.

Background

The objectives of the Bill are:

Key points

The Bill makes a number of significant reforms to matters relevant to local government elections as outlined below (this is not a full list of amendments).

Who is the Returning Officer?

The default position under the Bill is that it is the CEO who is the Returning Officer for local government elections. The CEO may withdraw from being the Returning Officer by giving the Electoral Commissioner (EC) a withdrawal notice. If the CEO is not the Returning Officer, the EC must appoint one.

The withdrawal notice is binding on the CEO and any subsequent CEO on and from:

Irrespective of whether a withdrawal notice is given, the circumstances under which the CEO is not the Returning Officer include:

Assistance to the Returning Officer

New section 9A of the LGEA provides that the CEO Returning Officer must not delegate a function or power of the Returning Officer and provides for the EC to continue to be responsible for conducting local government elections.

To assist the EC and CEO Returning Officer in performing their respective roles, new section 24A of the LGEA requires a CEO Returning Officer to prepare an election plan for approval by the EC.

The election plan must include staffing proposals, the location of the polling booths and other matters as directed by the EC. The CEO Returning Officer must give the plan to the EC by:

The EC proposes to give an information pack to CEOs which will include an election plan template, statistical information from the last quadrennial election, information on staffing and polling booths and the last general return from the quadrennial election which includes feedback on the logistical set up of the election.

New section 12A of the LGEA allows the CEO Returning Officer to appoint persons to carry out an election duty. The CEO Returning Officer may appoint assistant Returning Officers, presiding officers and issuing officers.

System of voting for Mayors

Section 65 of the LGEA has been amended to change the system of voting for mayors in undivided local governments from FPTP to OPV.

The amendment means voting for mayors is consistent across divided and undivided local governments and consistent with voting for members of the Legislative Assembly. Voting for councillors in undivided local governments will remain as FPTP and voting for councillors in divided local governments remains as OPV.

Full postal voting applications

Section 45 of the LGEA, as amended, will require a full postal ballot application to be made to the Minister by 1 July in the year preceding a quadrennial election. Councils may apply to the Minister to conduct all or part of their elections as a full postal ballot if their area includes a large rural sector, large remote areas or extensive island areas. Following the Minister's approval, the EC is notified that a full postal ballot is to be conducted.

Notice of mayoral result to be notified

Section 100 of the LGEA, as amended, allows the result of the poll for mayor to be notified at the earliest possible time, irrespective of whether or not councillor results are notified.

A number of amendments were made to the LGEA to align local government election requirements with the state's Electoral Act 1992:

Obsolete de-amalgamation provisions

The Bill amends the Local Government Act 2009 to repeal obsolete de-amalgamation provisions.

Automatic disqualification of councillors serving a suspended sentence

Amendments were made to the COBA and the LGA to clarify that a councillor who is subject to a suspended sentence is disqualified from being a councillor immediately on the sentence being handed down. This amendment commences upon assent of the Bill.

Commencement

The following provisions commence on a day to be fixed by proclamation:

All other remaining provisions commence upon assent of the Bill.

Further information

Any further enquiries on this matter should be directed to:

Bronwyn Blagoev
Director
Policy, Legal and Corporate Support

Phone: (07) 3452 6792

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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