Local Government Reform Area 3 – a positive change in the main

The State Government’s Local Government Reform Area 3, one of 4 reform areas, focuses on efficient and transparent representation.

 

This Reform Area attempts to provide a range of proposals aimed at improving the local government elections in South Australia.

 

During the earlier call for reform ideas, the most popular idea received was to introduce electronic—online—voting for councils.

 

Disturbingly there is no proposal to consider this. The government is telling us that technical difficulties are too great at this time. I would however appreciate at least new legislation recognising the potential future role for electronic voting.

 

As with my blog posts on the other reform areas I agree with many (if not most) of the recommendations.

 

I agree with their proposal NOT to move to compulsory voting. Their reasoning is that enforcing compulsory voting in a postal voting system is difficult and resource intensive. My reasoning is compulsory voting, I believe, will see the potential intrusion of the political parties into local government. This is indeed the case where compulsory voting exists in the eastern states.

I also agree with the proposal to avoid local government elections being in the same calendar year as state government elections. Being in the same year can invite voter fatigue. Of note is the next election year will be 2022. As the federal government is due for election also in that year (as part of their 3 year cycle) By the time our elections come round, there will surely be voter fatigue.

I support the re-introduce the automatic enrolment of property franchise holders. Currently they have to painstakingly re-apply before each election.

Being independent, I absolutely agree with candidates having to confirm, at the time of announcing their candidacy, any affiliation with political parties. You deserve to know about any such political affiliation before you vote, not after. The same for donations received and whether or not a candidate lives in the Ward.

Candidates should, in today’s world, be provided with a choice of receiving a paper copy (as now) of the electoral role for their ward, or a digital copy of the roll. We are the only level of government where an electronic copy is denied.

The rest of the initiatives are pretty much administrative in nature. They will simply improve things without you necessarily seeing the benefit.

All in all, the recommendations in the State Government Local Government Reform Area 3, will bring about a better more transparent local government.

Prime Minister Bites the Dust. This won’t happen to your Mayor.

We watched today helplessly as yet another Prime Minister bites the dust. The fourth to get the flick by their colleagues.

As this unfolded over the last few days I could not help but ponder the comparisons between Federal, State and Local Government. More particularly I pondered the status of Prime Ministers and Premiers, as compared with Mayors.

Prime Minister bites the dustIn recent years, after the long reign of John Howard as Prime Minister, we have seen Kevin Rudd elected by the people. We then saw Julia Gillard, followed again by Kevin Rudd elevated to the top spot not by you but by their colleagues in the Labor party.

With an angry electorate we then saw Tony Abbott get the people’s vote only then to see Malcolm Turnbull followed by Scott Morrison get the top job courtesy of “their” Liberal colleagues. You have to wonder how the electorate will view this mob next time they get their chance to have a say?

Just in case you don’t know, it won’t be long before we will be asked to vote in the Local Government elections. Given today’s news we might also be voting soon in the Federal election having done likewise in the State elections earlier this year. Maybe even at the same time.

And as the Prime Minister bites the dust here is my ponderance that prompted this blog post.

Unlike in Federal and State elections you will be asked to vote separately for your local ward members and your Mayor. In local government elections you get to vote for your local representative just as you do in the Federal and State elections. Of course, you get to choose two, not one. That is a storey in its own right.

That said, unlike in the Federal and State equivalents, you also get to vote separately for your Mayor. And when you do the winner of your vote gets the nod. In the other two forms of government the party that wins the most seats in the lower house elects the leader, be it Prime Minister or Premier. Not you.

And once you have, that person will be your Mayor until you get another say. That is unless they resign as Mayor Clyne did earlier this year or have health issues that prevent staying in the top job. The Mayor’s colleagues do not have a say. Only you.

The other side of the coin however is anyone who does not win the Mayoral contest does not get to sit on Council. The losers of the race for Prime Minister and Premier do. And they do because you don’t get a say.

Yet, with such power in Local Government elections it is strange that only one in three able to cast a vote will.

As they say (and the Prime Minister bites the dust) that’s politics.