The State Government will move to change the date of future local government elections to the third Saturday in October.
Local Government and Regional Development Minister John Bowler said he would move to amend the Local Government Act 1995 to change the elections from the current May date.
Mr Bowler said the change of dates would remove many of the difficulties experienced by newly elected councils, with the Western Australian Local Government Association having indicated its support to the minister.
“May elections mean that newly-elected councillors are faced with the immediate task of dealing with the development of council budgets for the forthcoming financial year, but the October date will give them the opportunity to settle into their roles and the operations of the council before having to make major financial decisions,” the Minister said.
Councillors whose positions were scheduled to be up for election in May 2007 would carry on in their roles until the new elections in October 2007, under the proposed amendments.
Mr Bowler said while it was proposed that the election date be changed, there were no current considerations to make voting in local government elections compulsory.
“I have been surprised by the level of support for a change to the voting structure as I have travelled throughout the State meeting the 142 councils and it is obviously something that will be discussed throughout Local Government Week,” he said.
“The apparent increase in support for compulsory voting is recognition of the importance of local government and the fact that it is no longer the poor cousin to other levels of government.”
The methods of voting and if it should be in person or by post, had also been raised with the Minister, given their differences to the State and Federal voting systems and were also expected to be discussed.
Mr Bowler will address mayors, shire presidents and council staff on a number of topics during the Local Government Week conference at Burswood Convention Centre.
Minister's office: 9213 6500