Voting in Tasmania’s local council elections in September will be obligatory after the State’s Parliament passed new legislation on 2 June.
Minister for Local Government Nic Street said bringing council elections into line with State and Federal elections would lift community perceptions of local government and its importance.
“As a former elected member of Kingborough Council, I understand the importance and value of the decisions made by local councils,” he said.
“These decisions are just as important as those made at State and Federal Government level and in many cases, they impact the day-to-day lives of Tasmanian residents a lot more.”
“We also want to lift the community’s engagement with the local government sector, and I am confident the passing of this legislation will do that.”.
Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) President Christina Holmdahl welcomed the Government’s recognition of the importance of local government, but said it should have consulted with the sector before announcing the proposed changes.
“Now the legislation has passed Parliament, we will work with the Government and the Tasmanian Electoral Commission to determine how it will practically work,” Mayor Holmdahl said.
South Australia and Western Australia are now the only two states or territories where voters are not compelled to cast a ballot in local government elections.
Making voting compulsory in WA was canvassed during a review of the WA Local Government Act in 2019.
A discussion paper at the time said: “Introducing compulsory voting for local government elections would ensure greater turnout in elections. However, there may be little desire for such a change to occur from the broader community as it would impose an obligation on electors that was not there previously.”