Shire of East Pilbara East Ward Extraordinary Election 15 March 2024

An extraordinary election is to be held for one (1) Council Member to represent the East Ward on the Council of the Shire of East Pilbara.

The extraordinary election is scheduled for Friday, 15 March 2024. 

Council has determined to hold an in-person election, and arrangements are being prepared by the WA Electoral Commission in consultation with Shire Officers.  Details of polling places and dates/hours of operation will be confirmed prior to the election and published. Early voting will take place in Kiwirrkurra, Kunawarritji, Punmu, Parngurr, Jigalong, Marble Bar, Nullagine and Newman. 

You will be entitled to vote in the extraordinary election if you live in or are an owner or occupier of rateable property in the Shire of East Pilbara and on the electoral roll.

Candidates

At the close of nominations on 31 January 2024, four nominations for election had been received by the Returning Officer, who conducted the ballot draw.  The order of the ballot paper is as follows:

East Ward – 1 Councillor (3 year term)

Candidate - Milton Chapman

Candidate - Bruce Booth

Candidate - Margaret Samson

Candidate - Stacey Smith

Each candidate profiles can be accessed by clicking on the candidate’s name above.

 A video recording of the ballot draw can be access at this link: LG Election_ Nominations Close - 4.00PM-20240131_160425-Meeting Recording.mp4

 Voting

 Election Day is 15 March 2024.  Early voting is expected to commence in late February, with details to be published on this website. 

WHERE TO VOTE

Voting will take place at the following locations on the specified dates and times

Place

Date

Time

Venue

Jigalong

Sunday

10 March 2024

 

10.00am – 2.30pm

 

 

Community Boardroom

Thursday

14 March 2024

2.30pm – 4.30pm

Kiwirrkurra

Wednesday

13 March 2024

9.00am – 3.30pm

Women's Centre

Kunawarritji

Tuesday

12 March 2024

9.00am – 1.30pm

HACC 

Marble Bar

Monday to Friday

26 February 2024 – 14 March 2024

9.00am – 4.00pm

Marble Bar Shire Office

Newman

Monday to Friday

26 February 2024 – 14 March 2024

9.00am – 4.00pm

Newman Shire Office

Nullagine

Wednesday

28 February 2024

6 March 2024

13 March 2024

10.00am – 2.00pm

Nullagine Library

Parnngurr

Thursday

14 March 2024

9.00am – 12.30pm

Community Office

Punmu

Monday

11 March 2024

9.00am – 4.00pm

Community Boardroom

 

Election Day is Friday, 15 March 2024. Voting will take place at the following locations at the specified times:

Place

Time

Venue

Marble Bar

8.30am – 12.00noon

Marble Bar Shire Office

Newman

8.00am – 6.00pm

Newman Shire Office

Election Notice

Postal Voting 

Electors may apply for a postal vote in the Council election. To do so electors must complete an Application for Postal Voting Papers and submit it to [email protected] before 4.00pm on Monday, 11 March 2024.

 

It is highly recommended that applications be submitted as soon as possible to ensure Australia Post is able to deliver your voting package on time. 

Application for Postal Voting


Event

Date

Nominations Open

First day for candidates to lodge completed nomination papers, in the prescribed form, with the Returning Officer. Nominations are open for 8 days.

Wednesday, 24 January 2024

Close of Nominations - 4.00pm

Wednesday, 31 January 2024

Close of absent voting and close of postal vote applications for 'voting in person' elections - 4.00pm.

Monday, 11 March 2024

Close of early voting for 'voting in person' elections -  4.00pm.

Thursday, 14 March 2024

Election Day
Close of poll — 6.00pm.

Friday, 15 March 2024

Election results declared and published.

As soon as practicable

Owner / Occupier Roll

Residents

You are automatically enrolled to vote if you are on the State Electoral Roll as at 5:00 PM Thursday, 18 January 2024.

If you are not already on the State Electoral Roll and meet the eligibility criteria, or if you have changed address recently, you must complete an enrolment form.

Are you on the electoral roll?

You can check to see if you are on the electoral roll and eligible to vote in the local government elections by clicking on the WA Electoral Commission link:

https://www.elections.wa.gov.au/oes#/oec

If you are not enrolled and a resident of the East Pilbara District, you can enrol at this WA Electoral Commission link. :

https://www.elections.wa.gov.au/enrol

Non-Resident Owners and Occupiers

If you are a non-resident owner or occupier of rateable property in the Shire of East Pilbara and are on the State or Commonwealth Electoral Roll, you are eligible to enrol to vote. If you are not on the State or Commonwealth Electoral Roll and own or occupy rateable property in the Shire of East Pilbara you may be eligible to enrol to vote. This applies if you were on the last electoral roll for the Shire of East Pilbara prior to May 1996 and have owned or occupied rateable property in the district continuously since this time. Please contact your local government for details. Owners of land who were on the last Local Government roll continue to retain that status until they cease to own the rateable property to which the enrolment relates. Occupiers do not have continuous enrolment and should contact the Shire of East Pilbara to confirm their enrolment status. To be eligible to enrol as an occupier, you will need to have a right of continuous occupation under a lease, tenancy agreement or other legal instrument for at least the next three months following the date of the application to enrol.

Joint Owners and Occupiers

If a rateable property is owned or occupied by more than two people, a majority of the owners/occupiers may nominate two persons from amongst themselves who are on either the State or Commonwealth Electoral Roll, to enrol as owner/occupier electors.

Corporations

A body corporate that owns or occupies rateable property may nominate two people who are on either the State or Commonwealth Electoral Roll to enrol as owner/occupier electors.

Enrolment Forms – Non-Resident Owners and Occupiers Only

Enrolment forms can be obtained from local governments and must be lodged with the Chief Executive Officer by . A copy of the form is available here.

Are you thinking of standing as a Candidate for Election?

Nominations for candidates will open on Thursday, 24 January 2024 and close at 4.00PM on Thursday, 31 January 2024.

Full details about eligibility and nomination procedures for prospective candidates can be obtained by contacting the Returning Officer, Carole Winfield on 0461 392 261.

A copy of the public notice calling for nominations is available at this link:

Call for Nominations Notice

Following is information that is be provided for prospective candidates on the election and the role of Councillor. 

 

Election Candidate Information Briefing Video

The WA Local Government Association together with the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) and the WA Electoral Commission, hosted an Election Candidate Information Briefing webinar in August 2023 for the 2023 ordinary elections. The following presenters covered a range of topics, with the aim of preparing successful election candidates for life as a Council Member:

Presenters and topics

  • Minister for Local Government, the Hon. David Michael – the Importance of Local Government in Western Australia
  • WA Local Government Association President Karen Chappel – why being a Councillor is important in our communities.
  • Robert Kennedy, WA Electoral Commissioner, together with Phil Richards, Manager Election Events - on the process and key dates on running to become a Local Government Councillor in 2023.
  • WALGA Representatives, the purpose of Local Government, the role of an Elected Member and Conflicts of Interest.
  • Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industries - The role of DLGSC as the regulator of the Local Government Act and Regulations, and key compliance provisions for Elected Members and candidates, including Code of Conduct requirements

The webinar video can be viewed at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLoGEGyO614

https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/local-government/local-governments/council-elections

Extraordinary Election Timeline

Some of the key dates for the extraordinary election are as follows:

Event

Date

Nominations Open

First day for candidates to lodge completed nomination papers, in the prescribed form, with the Returning Officer. Nominations are open for 8 days.

Wednesday, 24 January 2024

Close of Nominations - 4.00pm

Wednesday, 31 January 2024

Close of absent voting and close of postal vote applications for 'voting in person' elections - 4.00pm.

Monday, 11 March 2024

Close of early voting for 'voting in person' elections -  4.00pm.

Thursday, 14 March 2024

Election Day
Close of poll — 6.00pm.

Friday, 15 March 2024

Election results declared and published.

As soon as practicable

A complete timetable of events is attached here.

The Department has also published a Toolkit for local governments to promote recent changes in the voting system, which is available at:

https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/local-government/strengthening-local-government/local-government-act-reform/toolkit-for-local-governments.

The following information comes from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

Nominating to be a Council Member

Information on nominating to be a council member.

Are you Eligible to Nominate for Council?

To stand for election as a councillor, or a mayor or president elected by the people of a local government district, you must:

  • be 18 years of age or older
  • be an Australian citizen or a British subject prior to 26 January 1984
  • be an elector of the district
  • if a current council member, have a term that ends on election day, unless you are standing for mayor or president directly elected by the public;
  • have completed the mandatory Local Government Candidate Inductionavailable on the DLGSC website.

You are not eligible to nominate for Council if you:

  • are a member of State or Federal Parliament
  • are an insolvent under administration
  • are serving a prison sentence for a crime
  • have been convicted of a serious local government offence within the last 5  years, (unless the court has waived the disqualification)
  • have been convicted on indictment of an offence for which the penalty was or included imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for more than 5 years
  • are a member of another council
  • are subject to a court order disqualifying you from being a council member because you have misapplied local government funds or property
  • are on the local electoral roll as the nominee of a body corporate
  • propose standing for 2 positions on council (unless you are standing for mayor or president as well as councillor)
  • are currently disqualified by the State Administrative Tribunal from holding office as a member of a council.

Mandatory Induction Prior to Nomination

Candidates must complete an online induction course before submitting their nomination. The course provides information on the role and responsibilities of being a council member, and the rules related to election campaigns. When candidates register the completion of the course, they will receive an confirmation email with a reference number and date of completion. Candidates must include the reference number and completion date on the nomination form. The DLGSC strongly recommends that candidates show a digital or print copy of the confirmation email to the returning officer when they submit their nomination.

This course must be completed by all candidates, including existing councillors running for re-election.

How to Make an Effective Nomination

For a nomination to stand for council to be effective:

  • candidates must fill out the nomination form and sign the declaration
  • the nomination form must be accompanied by a candidate profile
  • the nomination form and candidate profile must be accompanied by a deposit of $100 or the deposit must be paid before nominations close
  • if candidates are nominated by an agent, the form must be accompanied by a written authorisation from the candidate (or such authorisation must follow before nominations close).

Key concept: for an effective nomination, candidates must have a nomination form, candidate profile, deposit (and authorisation if using an agent to lodge).

The earlier candidates lodge their nomination, the easier it will be for the returning officer to notify the candidate of any errors or irregularities. The full election timetable includes the nomination period for this year’s elections.

Name on Nomination

The name to be printed on the ballot paper for a local government election must be the candidate’s surname and one or more of their given names (or an initial or a commonly accepted variation).

Candidates must use the same name on their candidate profile. To ensure fairness between candidates, the returning officer may rule that a name is inappropriate for inclusion on the ballot paper. If so, they may ask the candidate to nominate another name or choose one they consider appropriate. Candidates should speak to the returning officer if uncertain about whether they can use a certain variation.

Forwarding of a Nomination

A nomination can be:

  • delivered by the candidate or their agent (if the nomination is signed and delivered by someone else the candidate must provide written authorisation signed by the candidate before nominations close)
  • posted or faxed
  • sent by any electronic means if a hard copy of the nomination can be printed in full including the candidate’s signature.

An electronic nomination is deemed to be received when a hard copy is printed. The receipt of the candidate’s nomination does not mean that it has been accepted as an effective nomination. The $100 deposit must also be paid before a nomination can be accepted.

Tip: if faxing or emailing the nomination, the candidate should phone the local government’s returning officer to check if they have received and made a hard copy of it before the close of nominations.

Payment of Nomination Deposit

The $100 deposit can be paid by cash, bank draft or postal order made out to the local government. It can also be paid in other ways such as by bank cheque or electronic funds transfer, subject to the approval of the returning officer. Deposits are required to discourage frivolous nominations.

Return of Nomination Deposits

Nomination deposits are to be returned to any successful candidate, and any candidate who receives at least 5% of the first preference votes in the count.

Deposits are also to be returned if a candidate withdraws before the close of nominations, or if a candidate nominating for both councillor and mayor or president is elected as mayor or president.

Candidate Profiles

When nominating for council, the candidate profile is to:

  • be written in English
  • be not more than 1000 characters inclusive of spaces (excluding the candidate’s name and contact details)
  • be confined to information about the candidate, their policies and beliefs
  • not contain information that is false, misleading or defamatory
  • be on a single-sided A4 page (it can be handwritten, typed or printed)
  • include the candidate’s full name, address and contact numbers (the candidate’s name must be in the form in which they have asked for it to be shown on the ballot paper)
  • include a recent head or head and shoulders photograph no larger than a passport photo if the candidate wishes.

The purpose of the profile is to provide information to electors about the candidate’s policies and beliefs so that they can make an informed choice when voting.

Candidates may wish to tell them what they think are important services and facilities for their community and what they would like their local government to consider providing. Candidates could highlight new areas where council could develop policies; and tell them what the candidate would work towards on their behalf should they be elected.

Statements could be worded:

  • I believe …
  • I support …
  • I participated in …
  • I propose …
  • To illustrate my beliefs (or policies I have been involved in) ...

A candidate who has not been an elected member previously could relate their beliefs or policies to positions, decisions or outcomes they would encourage the council adopt. They could indicate their involvement with community groups that may have aims or agendas with which the candidate agrees.

Take care to avoid negative comments about other candidates or anyone else. Such comments could be viewed as defamatory. Make sure that the statements made are practical and will not mislead.

The returning officer can amend a candidate profile if it does not meet these requirements. Preferably, this will be done in consultation with the candidate. This can be done before or after nominations close. If a profile is changed, the returning officer will promptly provide the candidate with written notice of the change and the reason for it.

Where there is a ‘voting in person’ election (as is the case with the Shire of East Pilbara), the returning officer will arrange for the display of the candidate’s profile at each polling place as well as the local government’s public notice board. For this purpose, the returning officer may reproduce it in the same form or another form.

In a postal voting election or where a postal voting package is sent to a person in a ‘voting in person’ election, the profile will be included in the package. Again, it may be reproduced in the form in which the candidate submitted it, or it may be reformatted.

Tip: candidates should read the notes on the back of the nomination form before filling it out and before writing their profile. Adhere to the conditions set down for candidate profiles as the nomination could be rejected if it does not conform to the requirements.

Should candidates wish to submit a photo, it is suggested that candidates use one with a light background as this provides better quality reproduction. The photo is included in the overall size limitation of the profile (single-sided, A4).

Key concept: the purpose of the candidate profile is to enable electors to make an informed choice when voting.

Examples of Candidate Profiles

Below are 2 examples of how a candidate profile could be used to promote a candidate within the community:

No.1 Peter Barlow

Your candidate for Oxford

A vote for Peter is a vote for independence and integrity.

31 years of age, married to Simone with three children, Tim 5, Jane 3 and James 1.

31 years resident of Oxford who enjoys and values the unique hills lifestyle.

Loves and wants to keep our forest environment.

Will ensure strong support for our volunteer organisations (SES, Bush Fire Brigade, Scouts).

Keen to support open and accountable government.

Keen to see the implementation of the district conservation strategy in the Shire’s new planning scheme.

Keen to support council’s investment policy and plan.

Keen to see continuation of discounts for early payment of rates.

Contactable on tel: 123 4567 (H), 987 6543 (W), and at 16A Valley Road, Oxford.

No.2 Jennifer Simmonds

I am married with two children and live in Tuart Street, Smithdale.

I am a small businessperson and am therefore very aware of the problems faced by small business people in the community. I am also supportive of living in a healthy and safe environment.

I believe that a local government should be open and accountable in the way it conducts its business and that people in the community should have every opportunity to participate in their local government.

I am therefore keen to promote steady and careful growth in our community and to promote the principles and aims of the new local government legislation.

My contact details are:

Address: 21 Tuart Street, Smithdale

Telephone: 9999 9999

Written Statement

When nominating for council, candidates can also provide a written statement for publication on the local government’s website.

The written statement can contain information that candidates believe to be relevant to their campaign, in addition to their candidate profile. It must be written in English, accompany the nomination paper and contain no more than 2000 characters, inclusive of spaces.

Rejection of Nomination

A nomination can be accepted or rejected. It can only be rejected the candidate is not eligible or if the nomination does not meet the requirements for an effective nomination. This could include nomination papers not being properly completed, parts of the nomination requirements not being provided or the deposit fee not being received by the close of nominations.

When a nomination is rejected, the returning officer must give the candidate written notice of the decision and the reasons for it, without delay. This is another reason for lodging the nomination early.

Display of Nomination and Profile

When a nomination has been accepted, the returning officer will arrange for candidate nomination details (but not the nomination form), and candidate profile to be published on the local government's official website. Nomination details include the candidate’s name, the name to appear on the ballot paper, the ward (if any), mayor, president or councillor position, and the type of election (for instance, ordinary or extraordinary).

The details and profile will stay on the website either until the result is declared if no election is required or until 6.00pm on election day.

Depending on the type of election, a copy of the profile will also be displayed in a prominent position in each polling place and/or will accompany each set of postal voting papers.

Cancellation of Nominations

A nomination is cancelled if the candidate withdraws it before nominations close. Nominations can only be withdrawn by a written notice to the returning officer. If the notice is from the candidate’s agent, it must be accompanied by, or be followed by, a letter of authorisation from the candidate before the close of nominations. A withdrawal notice or letter of authorisation can be transmitted in the same way as a nomination paper (see forwarding of a nomination.)

When a nomination is cancelled, nomination details and profiles will be removed from display and replaced by a notice of the cancellation until nominations close.

If a candidate withdraws after 4.00pm on the day before nominations close, they will forfeit their deposit. The withdrawal of nominations can only occur up to the close of nominations. Candidate nominations cannot be withdrawn after the close of nominations.

The full election timetable includes the nomination period for this year’s elections.

Is there going to be a Vote?

Equal or less Candidates than Vacancies — No

If the number of candidates equals the number of vacancies to be filled at the election, the candidates are declared elected unopposed and no formal election is held.

If the number of candidates is less than the number of vacancies to be filled at the election, the candidates are also elected unopposed and an extraordinary election will be held later to fill the remaining vacancies.

More Candidates than Vacancies — Yes

If there are more candidates than vacancies to be filled, an election will be held.

The returning officer will draw lots to determine the order in which the names of the candidates will appear on the ballot paper.

Role of a Council Member

Providing Leadership and Guidance to the Community

People look to their elected representatives for leadership and guidance. Councillors can provide this by putting forward options and presenting arguments or possible solutions to problems at council meetings.

Developing a vision for the community and deciding what needs to be done to achieve that vision is an important role for council members. Convincing the community to endorse and follow that vision (and associated plans) requires leadership.

The most fundamental task for councillors is to achieve a strong sense of shared purpose and commitment. The needs and desires of the community are constantly changing and evolving. Councillors must be prepared to initiate new policies and activities in response to these changes.

Facilitating Communication Between the Community and the Council

To be effective, council members need to understand the views of the people they represent. Communication needs to flow both ways to be effective. Councillors provide information to the community about the policies and decisions of council, and the community relays its desires, concerns, and opinions to the council through the councillors. To represent both electors and the council effectively, a councillor needs to be a good communicator and keep in touch with the local community.

Councillors can keep in touch with electors in a variety of ways, such as:

  • attending meetings of local organisations;
  • being available and responding to residents who wish to raise issues or concerns;
  • attending events arranged by the local government;
  • participating in functions held in the local area;
  • communicating with the community regarding council matters via a newsletter, email or website; and
  • reading the local newspaper.

Determining Policy

The policy-making role of a councillor includes:

  • assessing and evaluating community needs;
  • establishing priorities for the identified needs;
  • considering the allocation of local government resources; and
  • convincing fellow councillors of these needs and obtaining their support.

To initiate new policies and activities successfully, a councillor will often need to gather information and obtain advice. This may be achieved through the council staff, following an approach to the CEO.

While a policy may begin with an individual idea, decisions are not made by an individual councillor alone. They are made by the whole council. This democratic process means that a councillor must accept the majority decision when the council votes upon a motion. If a council member feels strongly about an issue and does not have a conflict of interest in the matter, he or she should present a well-constructed and researched argument during the debate on the motion. If the result of the vote is against the wishes of an individual councillor, he or she should accept that result graciously. Each council member has the right to have their dissent recorded in the minutes.

Planning for the Future

All local governments must plan for the future of its district. This process starts with a Strategic Community Plan and a Corporate Business Plan.

The Strategic Community Plan is a 10-year plan that states the aspirations, vision, and objectives of the community, is developed with input from the community, and is adopted by council.

The local government’s administration then develops a four-year Corporate Business Plan that prioritises all the projects, services and activities needed to implement the Strategic Community Plan. It should state how much each will cost, what assets will be involved, and who will implement them.

The Corporate Business Plan should be developed using informing strategies, particularly asset management, long term financial planning, and workforce planning. These inform how capable the local government is of delivering the services requested by the community. Informing strategies about specific issues, such as community safety or major infrastructure works, also assist the local government to deliver these services.

Council does not need to approve the operational plan or business unit plans referenced in the Corporate Business Plan, but it should consider the community’s long-term objectives and the local government’s capacity to deliver when deciding its priorities.

Council reviews the Strategic Community Plan every two years through a desktop review, to make sure it is meeting the changing needs of the community. Council is required to conduct a major review of the plan every four years. Council will also review the Corporate Business Plan annually, to respond to changes inside and outside the local government. This process also helps council in setting the annual budget.

More information is available in the DLGSC’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework and Guidelines.

Managing Assets

Local government assets include everything from roads, bridges, buildings and parks, to computers and telephones, software, and intellectual property (IP).

Although assets are managed by the local government’s administration, council has responsibility for making sure that the community gets the best possible value from its assets. It does this by setting affordable and achievable priorities in the Corporate Business Plan and by making sure that the local government’s Asset Management Strategy is developed and implemented, with appropriate resources for that process.

More information is available in the DLGSC’s Asset Management Framework and Guidelines.

Governing Finances

The local government’s Corporate Business Plan and Long Term Financial Plan set out the projects, services, and activities that the local government will deliver and how much these will cost. This information is used by council in the setting and adoption of the annual budget.

Throughout the year, reports are prepared to enable councillors to review council finances, ensure that the council is adhering to its budget or make appropriate modifications. As with all local government business, finance is a matter for discussion and resolution by the full council. Councillors should maintain an active interest in budgeting since the council is responsible to the community for the results achieved.

More information is available in the DLGSC’s Long Term Financial Planning Framework and Guidelines.

Reviewing Policy

Another aspect of the councillor’s role is to review policy. This involves assessing whether a policy is fulfilling the community’s needs at any given time and examining the costs associated with the policy’s implementation.

To review activities effectively, councillors need to obtain relevant information from both community members and local government staff through appropriate channels.

Being Informed

Attending Meetings

Council members have a duty to attend all council meetings to ensure that electors are adequately represented. Under the Local Government Act 1995 (“the Act”), a councillor who is absent from three consecutive ordinary council meetings without leave being granted by the council is automatically disqualified. If a member needs to be absent for more than six consecutive ordinary meetings, Ministerial approval is necessary as well as council approval.

Applications for leave of absence must be approved by council before (or at the start of) the meeting(s) the council member is to be absent from. Leave of absence cannot be approved retrospectively.

Many local governments operate using a system of committees to reduce the work at council meetings. These committees are established to consider specific aspects of a local government’s operation, such as finance, works, community services or planning. Committees then make recommendations to the full council. Each committee usually includes a small number of councillors. Some committees include non-elected members such as employees, consultants or community members.

The number of meetings a councillor must attend each month will vary according to the frequency of council meetings and the number of committees on which the elected member sits. Most local governments have monthly or fortnightly council meetings. Committee meetings may be held several days prior to the council meeting or on the same day.

Some local governments have other types of meetings outside of the formal council meeting framework which allows councillors and officers to meet and discuss matters.

Voting at Meetings

If a council member is present at a council meeting, he or she has a duty to vote on all matters before that meeting, unless he or she has a financial interest in the matter. The lodging of proxy votes is not permitted at meetings of council or its committees.

It is important for councillors to read the agenda items and officers’ reports before the council meeting. Without this background reading, it is extremely difficult for councillors to effectively assess issues and provide constructive input to council debate and decision making. Further information should be requested if there is insufficient material available to make an informed decision. Background reports and papers can often be lengthy. Consequently, councillors must set aside adequate time for preparation prior to each council meeting.

Being Aware of Local Issues

Because councillors are required by law to vote on all issues that require a decision at a council meeting, ward councillors (if the district has wards) should obtain information on, and remain informed about, issues occurring outside their ward but within other areas of the local government district.

Councillors should also endeavour to remain informed about current affairs at a state and national level. This will give an elected member a broader perspective on issues affecting council.

Following up Problems

It is important that a councillor ensures that all electors’ enquiries and complaints receive appropriate responses, either by telephone, email, or letter. Electors are then reassured that their local government takes notice of them.

Gaining and Maintaining Support

Maintaining contact with electors, attending meetings of council, performing other civic duties, and remaining informed about all relevant local issues is time consuming. This is particularly so for newly elected councillors who are unlikely to have background knowledge of many of the issues being considered.

Newly elected councillors need to examine their present commitments and establish priorities to manage their time effectively. It is important for to have the support of family and/or friends. This support should be gained before standing for election. Additionally, candidates will often need assistants, especially for running an election campaign.

Accountability to the Community

Local government councillors are accountable to the council and to the electors of the local government district.

Public Access to Information

Members of the public can attend all local government ordinary council meetings and certain committee meetings.

They also have the right to access certain local government records and information, including:

  • the register of financial interests;
  • minutes of council and committee meetings;
  • agenda, notice papers, reports, and other documents that will be tabled at a meeting;
  • maps showing the district and ward boundaries; and
  • local laws.

Members of the public do not have a right to inspect agenda, minutes or notice papers for closed meetings or parts of meetings. Meetings can only be closed in a limited number of circumstances as prescribed by legislation.

Disclosure of Financial Interests

Councillors must disclose certain financial interests at council and committee meetings and in primary and annual returns. Councillors need to inform themselves about these matters because failure to disclose interests where required can incur fines of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of up to two years.

Disclosures at meetings and in primary and annual returns are recorded in a register to which the public has access. This enhances the accountability of councillors to the public. At the same time, protection is given to councillors because it is an offence for a person to publish information from the register unless under specified circumstances.

Note: A councillor’s right to privacy is balanced by the public’s right to be aware of the benefits a council member could gain from a decision.

It is pointless to seek election to local government to address a single issue in which candidates have a financial interest, because they would be unable to vote on that issue. In this case, it would be better to join a community group and lobby council regarding the issue.

The department has prepared guidelines on financial interest disclosures in both meetings and annual returns.

Disclosure of Interests affecting Impartiality

In addition to financial interests, councillors must declare interests that the community may perceive would affect their ability to act with impartiality. An interest which commonly falls within this definition occurs when a councillor is a member of a group, club or association that brings a matter before the council for a decision. Additionally, if a councillor’s parents, siblings or children (not living at home) have an item before council, the councillor is required to disclose an interest affecting impartiality.

The department has produced a guideline in relation to disclosure of interests affecting impartiality.

Freedom of Information

Local governments are subject to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 1992, which gives the public a legally enforceable right to access any document held by a local government, unless it has been exempted for a limited number of reasons. For example, personal information can be exempted from release.

Both FOI legislation and the access provisions in the Act are aimed at encouraging public participation in government and maximising the accountability of local governments to their community.

Financial Protection and Liability

A councillor is not personally liable for the actions of a local government where that person has acted in good faith and is properly exercising his or her powers and functions under the Act. However, councillors are effectively the trustees of local government funds and property. Any unauthorised act may result in councillors being personally liable for any loss or damage.

If a councillor is convicted of misapplying money and ordered to repay it, the person may be disqualified from acting as a councillor for up to five years, even if the money has been voluntarily repaid.

Defamation

Council members are not protected from defamation in the same manner as Members of Parliaments for statements they make in the council chamber. Defamation is the aspect of law that protects people’s reputations. It may be divided into libel, which relates to written or pictorial material, and slander, which relates to oral comments. Defamation can be defined as anything that tends to lower a person in the estimation of members of society.

In a council meeting, the elected member fulfils a public duty and is therefore given limited protection from legal actions of defamation. Unlike a Member of Parliament, a councillor’s privilege is qualified. This means that protection is only provided if the statements are made in good faith. Statements made with malice or made recklessly are not protected.

Statements made outside council meetings are unlikely to attract qualified privilege. This is particularly pertinent in relation to social media. While it can be a powerful tool for communicating ideas and policy platforms directly with the community, care should be used. The Act and associated Regulations and the Defamation Act 2005 apply in the virtual world, just as they do in real life. The test is whether a councillor would feel comfortable saying something on social media that could still be said in a public forum like a council meeting or on the front page of a newspaper.

Declarations of Office

A person elected as a councillor, mayor or president must make a declaration to observe the code of conduct of the local government before acting in the office. The declaration must be made within two months of election and will be organised by the local government’s CEO.

Governance and Ethical Standards

A Local Government Councillor is expected to:

  • promote and support good governance;
  • promote and support open and transparent government;
  • support and adhere to respectful, appropriate, and effective relationships; and adhere to the Code of Conduct.

Council Members' Rights

Right to request that votes be recorded

In Council or Committee meetings, a member can request that either his or her vote, or the votes of all members present, be recorded in the minutes. If such a request is made, the vote(s) must be recorded.

Right to be on at least one committee

A council member is entitled to be on at least one committee. The council determines the committee(s) on which the councillor sits.

Right to request further information when making decisions

Council and Committee members have the right to access information beyond what is provided to members of the public. This ensures members are properly informed on matters that are relevant to their functions. The functions of council members in this context include:

  • any function that a member is appointed or authorised to carry out by the council;
  • preparations for an upcoming meeting agenda item decision; or
  • anything the member is doing in carrying out his or her role.

The access provisions do not give members unlimited access to information held by the local government. Members may only seek access to information that is relevant to the performance of a specific function. Access arrangements should be made through the CEO.

Note: Council members, committee members or employees who make improper use of information acquired in the performance of their functions to:

  • gain an advantage for themselves or any other person either directly or indirectly; or
  • cause detriment to the local government or any other person

may be liable for a penalty of up to $10,000 or two years imprisonment. The Act does not define the term ‘improper use’, but it is likely to include wilfully taking advantage of confidential or restricted information held by a local government.

Meeting Attendance Fees

Each council member has a right to be paid meeting attendance fees. The fee for attending a meeting is not a salary. It is a recognition of the time and effort involved in preparing for and attending council and committee meetings. Meeting attendance fees are taxable. Budgets and annual financial reports are required to disclose the fees, expenses, and allowances paid to council members.

Council decides the amount of the fee within the minimum and maximum amounts determined by the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal (SAT) under the Salaries and Allowances Act 1975. Fees for individual meetings apply unless council decides to pay an annual fee. If the council does not set the amount of the individual meeting fee payable, members are entitled to claim the minimum amount.

Council members cannot claim fees for attending committee meetings unless they are formally appointed members of that committee.

Right to Reimbursement of Expenses

Expenses that must be reimbursed

Each council member is entitled to be reimbursed for information and communications technology expenses, childcare expenses, and travel costs.

The extent to which these expenses are reimbursed is established by the SAT. Where the SAT determines that annual allowances may be paid toward these expenses, councils can decide to pay their members those allowances at the amount or within the range set by the SAT.

While there is capacity for councils to reimburse their members for expenses incurred beyond these allowances, the SAT does impose limits on the level of some of these reimbursements.

Expenses that may be reimbursed

Expenses incurred in performing a function under the express authority of the local government and expenses incurred by a person who accompanies a council member while performing a function of the local government may be reimbursed. A local government may also decide upon further types of expenses to be reimbursed. Sufficient information, such as a receipt, must be provided to verify reimbursement.  

Additional allowance for mayors and presidents

Mayors and presidents are entitled to an annual allowance in addition to their meeting attendance fee. This allowance can be used for any local government related purpose. The right to claim this allowance cannot be refused by the council. Council may decide the amount to be paid, provided it is within the minimum and maximum limits set by the SAT.

Tax deductions are available for the cost of providing entertainment for the public at large in relation to official duties.

Additional allowance for deputy mayors and deputy presidents

Councils also have the discretion to provide an annual allowance for the deputy mayor or deputy president up to a percentage of the annual allowance to which the mayor or president is entitled, as determined by the SAT.

Note: The SAT reviews the appropriate amounts for meeting fees, allowances, and reimbursements on an annual basis. For up to date information, visit the Local Government Elected Members section of the SAT website.

Required skills, abilities, and knowledge

Local government councillors should develop the following skills, abilities, and knowledge:

  • Understanding of the role and structure of local government as prescribed by the Act and associated Regulations.
  • Understanding of the town planning role of local government as prescribed by the Planning and Development Act 2005.
  • Understanding of Integrated Planning and Reporting, including strategic plans for the future of the local government, the processes involved, and the strategic role of a Councillor.
  • Understanding of CEO performance management processes.
  • Ability to read and understand financial statements and reports.
  • Basic understanding of legal processes.
  • Understanding of the separation of powers between council and administration (the difference between governing and managing).
  • Understanding of meeting processes, including Standing Orders (the local law containing rules used to manage a meeting).
  • Awareness of risk management strategies.
  • Understanding of the accountability framework prescribed by the Act, the Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Act 2003, and other legislation.
  • Ability to communicate, debate, and actively participate in meetings.
  • Ability to develop and maintain effective working relationships and to manage interpersonal conflicts.
  • Ability to exercise independent judgement.

All candidates must complete online induction prior to nominating for election, and every council member is expected to undertake further training within 12 months of their next election. 

Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework and Guidelines September 2016 (pdf) 938 KB

Setting aside time and gaining the support needed

Maintaining contact with electors, attending meetings of council, performing other civic duties and remaining informed about all relevant local issues is time consuming. This is particularly so for newly elected councillors who are unlikely to have background knowledge of many of the issues being considered.

Newly elected councillors will need to examine their present commitments and establish priorities to manage their time effectively.

If it is important for a candidate to have the support of your family or friends, this support should be gained before standing for election. Additionally, candidates will often need assistants, especially for running an election campaign.

 

Past Elections

21 October 2023

16 October 2021

18 June 2022 - Extraordinary