Changes made to Local Government Elections

2012

Local Government (General) Amendment (Election Procedures) Regulation 2012 - in force from February 24, 2012

The object of this Regulation is to amend the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 so as:

  1. to make various local government elections provisions consistent with corresponding State elections provisions under the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912,
  2. to require paid electoral advertisements published on the internet during the regulated period for an election to show the name and address of the person who authorised the advertisement in a similar manner to the requirement relating to internet advertising in section 328A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918),
  3. to require certain information to be specified in the candidate information sheet including whether the candidate is a member of a political party and whether the candidate is qualified to hold civic office by virtue of being enrolled on the residential roll, the non-residential roll or the roll of occupiers and ratepaying lessees, and
  4. to make other miscellaneous amendments of a minor or machinery nature.

Local Government Amendment Act 2012 - in force from April 04, 2012

The object of this Act, so far as it relates to council election provisions, is to amend the Local Government Act 1993 to provide that the voting system in a contested election is to be preferential if only one councillor is to be elected, and proportional if two or more councillors are to be elected.

Previously, the optional preferential voting system applied where 1 or 2 councillors was to be elected and the proportional system applied where the number of councilors to be elected was 3 or more.

Local Government Amendment (Elections) Act 2012 - in force from April 11, 2012

The object of this Act is to amend the Local Government Act 1993 and the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 so as:

  1. to clarify that automatic enrolment of electors on the rolls for State parliamentary elections extends to enable persons to be enrolled on the roll of residential electors for a local government election during the period leading up to the polling day for the election,
  2. to allow persons eligible to enrol as residential electors for local government elections to enrol and cast a provisional vote at an election on polling day, provided the person can produce a New South Wales driver licence or Photo Card, and
  3. to make other miscellaneous amendments to improve the conduct of local government elections.

Local Government Amendment (Members of Parliament) Act 2012 - in force from April 11, 2012

The object of this Act is to amend the Local Government Act 1993 to prohibit a person holding the dual roles of a member of the Parliament of New South Wales (MP) and a councillor or mayor of a council. Despite that prohibition, the Amendment Act:

  1. allows a current MP who is also a councillor/mayor, or a councillor/mayor who is elected as a MP in future, to continue to hold the office of councillor/mayor until the next ordinary council elections or for the period of 2 years (whichever is the shorter period), and
  2. allows a MP to nominate for and be elected as a councillor/mayor without first resigning from Parliament. If elected, the person will need to resign from Parliament before the first meeting of the council after the election.

Any queries regarding the application of this provision should be directed to the Division of Local Government, Department of Premier and Cabinet as the agency responsible for the administration of the Local Government Act 1993. The NSWEC does not have the authority to decide whether/when a vacancy in civic office exists. The conduct of any by-election by the NSWEC that may flow from the amendments is not altered, in other words the NSWEC does not commence preparations for conducting a by-election until directed by way of the following:

  • In the case of a State by-election: the issue of the writ by the Governor;
  • In the case of a council by-election: notification of vacancy by the General Manager. 

Local Government (General) Amendment (Elections) Regulation 2012 – in force 22 June 2012

The object of this Regulation is to make amendments to the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 so as to:

The Regulation deals with the following matters:

  1. simplifying postal voting application forms to enable such forms to be lodged through the internet;
  2. clarifying that provisional voting may be carried out at pre-poll voting offices and declared institutions (other than enrolling and voting at declared institutions);
  3. making statute law revision amendments consequent on the introduction of authorised copies of the electoral rolls by the Local Government Amendment (Elections) Act 2012; and
  4. making other miscellaneous amendments of a minor or machinery nature.

2011

Local Government (Shellharbour and Wollongong Elections) Act 2011 – In force May 10, 2011

The mayors and councillors of Shellharbour City Council and Wollongong City Council were dismissed by proclamations of the Governor during 2008. Under those proclamations ordinary elections for those positions were due to be held on Saturday 8 September 2012.

The object of this Amending Act is to, among other things, provide for elections for Shellharbour City Council and Wollongong City Council to be conducted on Saturday 3 September 2011 (rather than 8 September 2012) and for the councillors elected at that election to hold office for a 5 year term. As a consequence, the next ordinary elections for Shellharbour and Wollongong City Councils, after commencement of this Act, are to be held on the second Saturday of September in 2016.

Local Government Amendment (Elections) Act 2011 – In force June 27, 2011

The object of this Act is to amend the Local Government Act 1993 to, among other things, transfer the responsibility for the conduct of local government elections from the NSW Electoral Commission to local councils. 

However, a council may, within 12 months after an ordinary election of councillors for the area, resolve that the council is to enter into a contract or make arrangements with the Electoral Commissioner for the Electoral Commissioner to administer all elections for the council. If such a contract is entered into or such arrangements made, the Electoral Commissioner is to administer all the elections of the council until the conclusion of the following ordinary election for councillors.

Transitional provisions under the Act and regulations for the purposes of the 2012 elections only:

  • Require councils to resolve by 30 November 2011 whether the NSWEC is to conduct their 2012 elections
  • Ensure councils resolving that the Electoral Commissioner is to conduct their 2012 elections are not required to enter into a contract with the Electoral Commissioner for those elections.

Note: There are 152 councils in NSW. 150 councils will have their ordinary elections in 2012 (Shellharbour and Wollongong councils are excluded by virtue of the Local Government (Shellharbour and Wollongong Elections) Act 2011 – see above). 136 councils resolved that the Electoral Commissioner was to conduct their elections for 2012.  The remaining 14 councils conducting their own elections in 2012 are:

Botany Bay
Cessnock
Coffs Harbour
Fairfield
Gunnedah
Kempsey
Lake Macquarie
Lane Cove
Maitland
Newcastle
Penrith
Port Stephens
Shoalhaven
Sutherland

2008

In early 2008 the Act was amended to enable Local Government elections to be held on the second Saturday of September, every 4 years.

During the preparation for the 2008 Local Government Elections, the Local Government Amendment (Elections) Bill 2008 was introduced into the NSW Parliament by the Minister for Local Government in April 2008. In mid 2008 when it became clear that the Bill would not be passed, amendments were made to the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 to modernise the arrangements for the conduct of Local Government elections. These reforms applied to the 2008 Local Government Elections.

Some of the key amendments to the Regulation included:

  • Electoral Commissioner rather than the council being responsible for statutory election advertising as well as the transfer of other electoral functions from the council and Returning Officer to the Electoral Commissioner;
  • Local Government elections advertised more broadly including on the NSWEC and council websites;
  • Ability to facsimile or email nomination proposals and withdrawals;
  • Aligning the date for the close of nominations and time by which nominations must be lodged or withdrawn;
  • Increasing access to pre-poll voting for certain groups;
  • Enabling pre-poll voting at mobile booths in remote local government areas;
  • Requiring an elector to vote for at least half the number of candidates of the total number of vacancies;
  • Requiring certain information to be placed on the NSWEC’s website; and
  • Providing for ballot papers to be issued in Braille format.

Importantly, the amendments also introduced a regulated election period for Local Government elections as in State elections, bringing greater alignment between the procedures and terminology for council and state elections.

2003

Provision is made for Local Government elections to be held on the fourth Saturday in September in every fourth year after 2004.

2002

Distribution of electoral material on election day is prohibited unless registered by the Electoral Commissioner.

2001

  • Parties required to have at least 100 members to be eligible for registration and must submit annual returns to confirm continuing eligibility.
  • Changes made to the procedures for voting.

1998

  • Electoral Commissioner to prepare all electoral rolls for the City of Sydney. General Manager of the City of Sydney no longer prepares the non-residential roll and the roll of occupiers and rate paying lessees.
  • Compulsory voting introduced for electors whose names are on the non-residential roll or the roll of occupiers and rate paying lessees at City of Sydney contested elections.

1995

System of groups appearing on ballot papers re-introduced.

1993

  • Extension of voting rights to occupiers and rate paying lessees in all council areas.
  • Number of councillors limited to 15 for each local government area.
  • Popularly elected Mayor of a local government area cannot also hold office as a councillor for that area.
  • The introduction of candidates' resumes for public inspection at polling booths.
  • Restriction on council general managers or employees, acting as returning officer or substitute returning officer, for an election in their council area.
  • Non-voters action at local government elections transferred to the Electoral Commissioner.
  • System of groups appearing on ballot papers abolished.
  • Introduction of registration of political parties similar to that for state elections.
  • Candidates endorsed by a registered political party may have the party affiliation appear on the ballot paper adjacent to their names. Independent candidates may have the word ‘independent’ on the ballot paper adjacent to their name.
  • Parties and candidates required to disclose political contributions received and electoral expenditure incurred.

1991

Electoral Commissioner responsible for preparation of residential rolls for council elections.

1987

Electoral Commissioner made responsible for conduct of council elections and polls.