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Local Government elections must proceed on March 28

News Release

Wednesday 18 March 2020

The peak body representing Queensland’s 77 councils has thrown its support behind Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe in his public commitment to go ahead with statewide local government elections, but with appropriate provisions in place to protect voters.

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) President Mayor Mark Jamieson said Queenslanders needed certainty wherever possible, as the community faces one of the most critical periods in the last 100 years.

“We have had constructive discussions with the Minister about options for council elections as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“We have already seen an unprecedented number of residents vote early or apply for a postal vote. If this trend continues at least one third of voters would have already had their say by the end of this week.

“We want residents to be able to take advantage of new opportunities for early voting in order to avoid large crowds on election day.

“The ECQ has advised early voting centres will be staying open tonight and Thursday night until 9pm, as well as next Wednesday and Thursday.

“Early voting centres also will be open on this Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

“We have faith in the good sense of the 3.2 million Queensland voters to continue to vote early and to stagger attendances on the actual polling day on March 28.

“Current health advice indicates attending a polling booth presents no higher risk than attending a shopping centre, going to school or work or using public transport.”

The LGAQ has also welcomed the State’s decision to expand telephone voting options for those residents in quarantine because they have been exposed to the virus or diagnosed with it.

Mayor Jamieson said in a worst-case scenario, should the State Government decide to call off the election and delay it, councils believe the date should be pushed back to March 27, 2021 to ensure community certainty in this challenging time.

“This would allow full postal by-elections to be held to replace those mayors and councillors who have already announced their retirement and who decide they do not wish to remain in the office for the additional year,” the Mayor said.

“We have had constructive discussions with the Minister who understands the need for councils to continue to function properly when their communities will need them the most.”

Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner supported the LGAQ’s position.

“It’s vital in these uncertain times that local government can provide certainty, leadership and stability,” Lord Mayor Schrinner said.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Redlands candidates had signed an unprecedented agreement to remove all volunteers from pre-polling booths so people could vote unhindered.

“We want people to feel safe to cast their vote and so in an unprecedented step all Redlands candidates have agreed to remove volunteers from pre-poll booths and we are considering a similar agreement for election day to reduce the number of people at polling locations,” Mayor Williams said.

“I have also suggested to the Minister that an online system allowing voters to book a timeslot to vote would help reduce the number of people at voting booths and reduce the risk of transmission.”

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Vogler, Media Executive

Local Government Association of Queensland

 

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


 

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