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Voting changes campaign rolls on

Friday, 5 April 2019

As a university-trained econometrician, numbers have been my life. They tell the truth no matter what. From the Special General Meeting of LGAQ members on Tuesday regarding the Palaszczuk Government’s planned electoral changes, the following numbers on the motions put say everything:

  • 1 Oppose Compulsory Preferential Voting: 98% support
  • 2 Oppose Proportional Representation: 99% support
  • 3 Oppose Dual Candidacy: 96% support
  • 4 Oppose Government-imposed Expenditure Caps: 86% support
  • 5 Support LGAQ expenditure Caps: 92% support
  • 6 Support regulation of Third Party Expenditure: 98% support
  • 7 Oppose public funding of Council Elections: 99% support
  • 8 Oppose reduction of mayoral power to direct staff: 82% support
  • 9 Oppose removal power of mayor, deputy or committee chair to appoint senior executive staff: 92% support
  • 10 Call on Government to abide by the same rules they set for councils: 83% support

Any pretence that the Government’s proposed changes to council electoral arrangements had support among councils evaporated on Tuesday. Councils stood as one; large and small, indigenous and non- indigenous and across party political lines. They were united.

The claims that the community supported the changes have also been eviscerated. I will let you in on a secret. If the very strong findings from Colmar Brunton that we published were not enough, our internal tracking polling showed overall public support for no change strengthen significantly and opposition to CPV and public funding leap off the Richter scale during our social media campaign. The traffic was all one way.

As you are aware, the Government did make a number of important concessions to local government on Monday on the eve of the Special General Meeting. They have been conveyed to councils so I won’t repeat them here. We thank Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister Stirling Hinchliffe for those sensible changes.

However, be very clear on this point: despite the partial roll back of compulsory preferential voting for councillors in undivided councils, councils and the LGAQ remain emphatically opposed to this system in any form in local government, as the above voting figures show. There is no justification for it. It goes against the Fitzgerald reforms and not recommended by either Crime and Corruption Commission or the Soorley review of the 2016 local government elections. The driver of introducing CPV to council elections is party political and for that that reason the LGAQ will not lay down the cudgels on that point. No, siree. The campaign rolls on.

I sincerely thank all the folks elected and appointed in local government who gave us such great practical and moral support over the past month and my wonderful core team of staff who worked on this campaign for 21 days without a break. We broke a lot of new ground with our strategy development, creative and digital tactics and deployment of social media tools. We’ve also learned an immense amount for future campaigns.

Finally, let’s be clear on this point. We are not at war with the Palaszczuk Government. The caravan moves on. The LGAQ is not a political party. Your Association has worked well with the Government in the past and will continue to in the future. We have always and will continue to call it issue by issue.

The Federal Budget was handed down last Tuesday. The LGAQ has produced a comprehensive rundown of Budget decisions affecting Queensland councils.

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006

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