Call for caretaker period during local elections

A STATE politician has called for local governments to adopt caretaker provisions during election periods.

North Metropolitan MLC Peter Katsambanis spoke in State Parliament on October 20, saying there needed to be better standards of governance.

“When we have Federal or State government elections, during the lead-up to the elections, there is a period known as the caretaker period,” he said. “The government of the day effectively goes into a mode of not making major decisions.

“During the conduct of local government elections in WA (recently), a number of local governments continued to conduct regular council meetings.

“Councillors who were actually running for election, and whose ballot papers were freely available, were casting their votes on council matters in formal council meetings.”

Mr Katsambanis said that could give the appearance of conflicts of interest or lead to councillors standing for re-election being accused of using votes to influence the outcome of elections.

He said it was not “best practice” and other states had caretaker provisions for local governments.

“WA is unique in the sense that the entire council is not rolled over at the same time; every two years part of the council will come up for election,” he said.

“With a bit of knowledge and good planning, every council could decide not to have a formal meeting in the three or four-week period between the calling of nominations, the conduct of the election and the declaration of the polls.”

Mr Katsambanis said local governments should work with WALGA, and he would write to Local Government Minister Tony Simpson with his suggestions.

See Opinion, page 8