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Bligh Creates Local Government Election Chaos
Friday February 3, 2012
FLINDERS Shire Council Mayor Brendan McNamara has described the State Government decision to hold their election a week before the date set for Local Government elections as an act of ``arrogance’’ and expects it may come back to bite them.
Premier Anna Bligh announced on Wednesday that State Government elections would be held on March 24, just a week before the date scheduled for Local Government elections, which has remained the same since 2008.
Local Government Association of Queensland President Paul Bell said Ms Bligh had gone back on several assurances that she would not shift the date of local Council elections from 31 March to suit her own political purposes.
Cr McNamara said there had been rumours circulating that there may be a date change on the Tuesday before the announcement but before then he hadn’t heard anything.
For the local Mayor, and three of the four current Councillors, it means an extra month in office when they had planned to step down at the upcoming election.
``Last week she (Ms Bligh) was talking about going later because there’s got to be a gap between State and Local elections, then she decided to change the date and not take any account of us and push us back as well,’’ Mr McNamara said.
``It’s obviously some political game which she believes is in there for herself. She’s hanging her change of date on the release of the Flood Enquiry Report - for some reason she thinks she’s going to get some political gain out of that.
``For me it means another months work. I hadn’t organised a holiday away but there are quite a few Mayors standing down and other Councillors standing down and they might have already made plans for the month of April.’’
Mr Bell reiterated that the Premier’s decision to shift the poll date, thereby throwing council election preparations into turmoil, was a disgrace.
He said the Government had again rejected the LGAQ’s position, adopted at the Association’s 2009 Annual Conference, that Council elections be pushed back to October to give new administrations adequate time to settle into their role before bringing down Council budgets.
“The Government would not countenance that option so we were forced to find another solution,’’ he said.
“Out of the dates the Government was prepared to countenance, 28 April was the least inconvenient.
“We in no way support this option nor do we agree with it. We were forced into proposing it following the Government’s cynical actions today.’’
Cr McNamara agreed the new election would affect the running of Councils, especially in Flinders Shire where there are only two of the current Councillors confirmed as re-standing for Election, and
an additional two Councillor positions – meaning there is the possibility of five new Elected Representatives, including the Mayor.
``It was a pretty tight time frame already to have meetings and have planning in process to have the budgets done for the 30th of June and although the Government might say you have some extra time to do it if you do it you’ll be going in to a new year without the budgets done and you’ll be pushing the rates back and pushing income back and it’s just messing up the timing of Council ... it’s certainly made it difficult for local government,’’ he said.
``At a Local Government conference in 2009 a motion went through to change the date of the election to 31st October every four years to get away from wet seasons which affects council elections early in the year and the Government didn’t take that option up ... as late as December 2011 the Government was still confirming that the 31st March was our election date.’’
While the electoral roll will close on the same date of January 31, Councillor nominations have shifted back a month. Nominations open on March 10 and close on March 27, with polling day set for Saturday, April 28.
In Flinders Shire a full postal vote will be held with counting at close of poll at 6pm on Saturday, April 28.