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Election announcement disappointing

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The Victorian Government’s decision to go ahead with the general council elections this year is disappointing, says the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).

The MAV wrote to the Minister more than three weeks ago advising the MAV Board’s position was for elections to be postponed by 12 months. This position was informed by consultation with our members. While there are clearly pros and cons to a postponement, councils’ view was that the priority concerns should be community health and ensuring fair elections.

Cr Coral Ross, President of the MAV, said that now that the Minister has made his decision it will be critical that the State work with councils to ensure appropriate measures are put in place to protect the health of residents, candidates, electoral and council officers, council officers and scrutineers.

“In reaching our position in favour of postponing the elections, councils were most concerned about the health and safety risks as well as the potential for incumbent councillors to be unfairly advantaged in their campaigns.”

“Coronavirus has thrown up a raft of difficult challenges, but Councils have stayed focused on delivering essential services, supporting their communities in an extraordinary variety of ways, organisational recovery, and future planning. It is frustrating that these efforts will now be distracted by the cost and challenges that come with planning for and holding elections.

“In our view a 12-month deferral would have also allowed for fairer elections and enabled the State and Councils to implement important reforms provided for by the Local Government Act 2020.”

“I am also concerned that as we celebrate 100 years of women in local government, that we now have a decision that may well deter women, who we understand have been more severely impacted by coronavirus, from standing for election.”

“We want to attract the best individuals into local government and we need to ensure that our Councils represent our communities in terms of diversity. We will seek to work closely with the State to deliver elections that are safe and that encourage and support candidates.”

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For further information, contact MAV President Cr Coral Ross on 0438 005 225 or the MAV Communications Unit on (03) 9667 5590.