Electors have been urged to vote in local government elections this weekend by two Government Ministers.
Local Government Minister David Smith said voting this Saturday, May 2, was fundamentally important to electors because their choices would determine the future directions of the areas in which they lived.
Parliamentary and Electoral Reform Minister Geoff Gallop said experience showed that less than 30 per cent of electors turned out to vote for local government candidates.
Because of this apathy towards local government issues, vital decisions affecting communities could be determined by a small percentage of people.
Mr Smith said he was concerned that many tenants and young people were not aware that if they were entitled to vote in State or Federal elections they were also able to vote in local government elections.
"You do not have to be a property owner or a ratepayer as long as you live in the area," Mr Smith said.
"While less than 30 per cent of people are voting, candidates only require the support of 15 per cent of the potential voters to be elected.
"The number of votes required is even less where there are multiple vacancies.
"Frankly, this makes it too easy for special interest groups or self-interested individuals to get on to council."
Mr Smith said he was not opposed to any interest group getting on to council. However, the policies and attitudes of these groups needed to be scrutinised by all electors.
Dr Gallop said people could only expect a council which the majority of residents approved of if a majority of electors took the trouble to inform themselves about the issues and candidates and then turned out to vote.
"Local government is becoming increasingly important as a result of microeconomic reform," Dr Gallop said.
"The drive for efficiencies across all levels of government is increasing the autonomy of local councils, particularly in the administration of funds.
"Quite obviously, it is important to have your say in the way these funds are administered because these matters directly affect your quality of life."
The Ministers reminded electors that voting hours this Saturday were from 8.00 am until 6.00 pm.
People who were unsure of the locations of polling places were advised to telephone their local council office.