Compulsory voting at council elections rejected

Good to see so many candidates for Subiaco, says former mayor Helen Passmore
Compulsory voting at council elections rejected
Good to see so many candidates for Subiaco, says former mayor Helen Passmore

LOCAL Government Minister Tony Simpson says the Government is not considering the introduction of compulsory voting at council elections, despite another low voter turnout.

A record number of 1021 candidates nominated for 449 mayoral and councillor vacancies across the State in this year’s local government elections, but just 27.5 per cent of eligible electors voted.

Mr Simpson said it was a disappointing result, but the local government sector had not indicated support for compulsory voting.

“Councillors who are making multi-million-dollar decisions are only been elected by a few hundred people,” he said.

“I do note there was significantly more effort by some councils to get ratepayers to participate in referenda on local government reform than on local elections.

“If ratepayers are happy to let others decide who will represent them on council, that is their prerogative.”

Mr Simpson did acknowledge the high number of candidate nominations.

“It was great to see there have been more young people elected and more female candidates elected.

“In 2013, just over 30 per cent of elected members were female – this year, 35.4 per cent of successful candidates were women.

“This is a positive outcome and long may the representation of women to elected positions continue to increase.”

Mr Simpson said online voting could be the way of the future, especially as efforts to encourage voter participation hadn’t increased turnout.

He wouldn’t elaborate on when it would be introduced and said it was a matter for the Minister for Electoral Affairs.