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Council elections delayed until December

Councillor John Thompson says democracy is not being diminished at this time, but public health and safety is a priority. Photo TWH

Council elections will be delayed for the second year in a row and will now be held on 4th December, 2021 as the Sydney COVID crisis worsens.

The elections were scheduled for 4 September 2021 after last year’s date was cancelled due to COVID restrictions. This further delay will mean that councillors at Bourke and Brewarrina, and other councils around the state, will end up serving terms of more than five years.

Local Government Minister, Shelley Hancock, said it was a difficult decision but the further postponement of council elections was necessary to ensure the safety of communities, voters, polling staff and candidates.

The decision was made following extensive discussions with the NSW Electoral Commission and NSW Health.

Minister Hancock said electors would be able to vote in person, by post or online in December. The government intends to roll out online voting for vulnerable residents and all voters will be able to pre-poll 13 days before election day.

President of Local Government NSW, Councillor Linda Scott, said the elections needed to be held this year to uphold democracy and ensure renewal.

“There’s never been a more important time for NSW councils to be led by skilled leaders, willing and able to undertake the role,” Ms Scott said.

“We are calling on the Premier to hold these elections in 2021, given the two delays.

“In regional NSW, mayors and councillors are particularly eager to ensure their communities can have a say on who their council representatives will be, given that in many areas they are yet to have a single COVID case.

“Why should the rest of NSW have to suffer because of COVID cases in Sydney? It is important the government provides COVID safe elections before the end of 2021,” she said.

The delay means nominations, which were due to open last Monday, will now open on October 25.

Bourke Mayor, Councillor Barry Hollman, said he was disappointed in the decision.

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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