Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Blow below the Line Election Headaches; Concerns Raised over Changes

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Blow below the Line Election Headaches; Concerns Raised over Changes

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Harris matthew.harris@gladstoneobserver.com.au

MAYOR Matt Burnett has pulled no punches when outlining Gladstone Regional Council's position on proposed changes to running local government elections.

It comes after a 24-page information paper was released last week by the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs outlining key amendments under consideration for council elections.

Some of the changes include compulsory preferential voting, proportional representation in undivided councils and campaign spending caps.

The changes are a result of the 2017 Belcarra Report into the 2016 local government elections and are expected to come before Parliament next month.

Cr Burnett said he believed the council's 'first past the post' voting method worked and that he had written to Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe this week to outline concerns.

"Council's position is very clear - we do not support the introduction of divisions. We support the status quo," Cr Burnett said.

"If the State Government is going to make the decision to introduce compulsory preferential voting for divisions and proportional representation for councils without divisions, then we would prefer to have divisions over proportional representation.

"Proportional representation is a senate-style ballot paper. It works in two ways - you vote above the line or below the line.

"For the 2020 election it probably won't mean a lot because everyone will run as independents as they currently do."

Cr Burnett said he didn't expect the changes to dramatically alter the landscape of next year's council election but believed they would in 2024.

"What will happen by 2024 and beyond, people will start to form teams and tickets and party politics will make its way into council," he said. …

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