NSW council elections delayed again by Covid outbreaks

Local government elections in NSW have been postponed for a second time as the current Covid-19 outbreaks in Sydney, the Hunter and Shoalhaven continue.

NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock confirmed last Saturday the election date had been pushed back from September 4 to December 4 for all NSW councils except Central Coast Council, which is currently in the hands of an administrator.

Council elections were originally scheduled for September 2020.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has responded by urging the government to commit to holding “Covid safe” elections before year’s end.

“Local government elections must be held by the end of the year to uphold democracy and ensure renewal,” ALGA (and LGNSW) President Linda Scott said.

“Public health and safety must always come first, but we do not want to reach a situation in which democracy delayed is democracy denied,” Cr Scott said.

“This latest three-month deferral comes on top of an existing deferral of 12 months from September 2020, with no guarantee further delays won’t occur.

“Delaying elections further is a risk to democracy.”

Cr Scott said a significant number of existing councillors, who had been asked to extend their term by 12 months, had already chosen not to stand for a further term.

“The need for local government leaders has never been greater, as communities and their local economies struggle with the impact caused by going into, out, and back into lockdown again,” she said.

Cr Scott said council elections took up to 12 months to organise, with the newly announced rescheduling likely to burden councils with further resourcing and administrative costs.

“Unfortunately, these additional costs will divert council funding from the hard work they are doing to drive a locally-led recovery, not just from the economic impacts of the pandemic but also the floods and bushfires that preceded it.”