Friday, May 24, 2013

Council reforms passed - mostly

THE following media releases are reproduced here without alteration. The deputy premier's statement beats around the bush on the topic of compulsory voting at council elections, which was defeated in the Legislative Council.

Bryan Green
Deputy Premier

Thursday 23rd May 2013
Major Local Government Reforms Passed

The Deputy Premier Bryan Green tonight welcomed the passing of major local government reforms by the Legislative Council. “These are very important reforms that will help re-shape the future of local government in Tasmania,” Mr Green said. “We put the reforms forward in good faith and now we will deal with the amended legislation when it returns to the Lower House to give local government certainty.

“All-in, all-out council elections will enable councils to focus on delivering their policies over a fixed-term like all other levels of government. Rather than elections for half the council ever two years this will provide continuity for our leaders in local government and the communities they represent. These changes will help ensure councils are even more accountable and responsive to their communities, while also letting them get on with the job that voters have elected them to do.

Mr Green said preventing dual representation would ensure that elected representatives can focus all of their efforts on the interests of their local communities. “This will relieve elected representatives of conflicting demands on their time.

Mr Green said he recognised the move towards compulsory voting was not supported by all councils. “The aim of compulsory voting was to help lift participation and make local government more representative of the communities they represent,” Mr Green said.

Tim Morris MP
Greens Local Government spokesperson
Friday, 24 May 2013
But Failure on Compulsory Voting is Missed Opportunity

The Tasmanian Greens today welcomed the passage of major local government reforms through the Legislative Council saying they will strengthen Tasmania’s democracy, but said it is disappointing that the opportunity to introduce compulsory voting was not seized.

Greens Local Government spokesperson Tim Morris MP said that the Greens had long campaigned for these reforms including removing the dual representation capacity which allowed for an individual to be a local councillor and sit in the State Parliament at the same time.

“Abolishing dual representation delivers on long-held Greens’ policy, and is a win for the voter, and a win for a modern and accountable democracy,” Mr Morris said. “The voter deservers to have elected representatives prepared to provide that electorate their full time and energy, whether it is a local council seat or a state parliament electorate. Greens Member for Bass Kim Booth first tabled the Greens Bill to bring in this reform in 2002, and a decade later, we are finally seeing the rest of the Parliament catch-up and make this happen.”

“We also welcome the new all-in, all-out fixed terms provisions.  This reform will now assist providing greater certainty and accountability to local councillors and the community which they represent. This will also have the dual win of significantly reducing the cost of council elections which is a big win for the ratepayers, and should free up those funds to go into service delivery.”

“The Legislative Council’s refusal to accept compulsory voting is a missed opportunity. Local government is a very important tier with increased service delivery responsibilities, and the Greens believe that it needs to be treated as seriously as other government tiers through the adoption of compulsory voting.  This would also help to address declining community participation rates at local council elections.”

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