Victorian Govt ponders deferral of October’s LG elections

The Victorian State Government is reportedly considering delaying council elections set down for October to later in the year or early 2021.

It follows Local Government Victoria’s decision this week to update campaign guidelines for candidates based on advice from Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

Under those revised guidelines, candidates in metropolitan Melbourne would effectively be banned from campaigning outside their homes, including doorknocking, leafleting, attending campaign events and advertising on billboards and posters, for as long as stage four restrictions remain.

Critics say the campaign restrictions would favour incumbents and candidates who could afford letterbox drops using postal services.

Municipal Association of Victoria president Coral Ross said the final call needed to be made as soon as possible.

“The anxiety out there is quite palpable, really,” Cr Ross told a Melbourne newspaper.

She has been calling for the elections to be pushed back one year, but said from March next year could be acceptable.

The Local Government Act gives Minister Shaun Leane the power to delay the election during a state of disaster.

October’s elections are being conducted by postal ballot to To ensure candidates, voters and electoral commission staff are safe from Covid-19 infection.

The NSW Government has delayed its council elections for one year until September 2021 because of the pandemic.