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Media release

3 people standing together in a park

Photo: Local Government Minister (centre) with WALGA President Karen Chappel (right) and Riverton MLA Dr Jags Krishnan (left).

Local Government Minister David Michael emphasised the importance of lifting the current low level of voter participation in local elections, about 30% turnout on average, to make results truly democratic, and ensure successful candidates are more representative of the communities they serve.

While voting is not compulsory, a higher participation is in the best interests of all Western Australians, so quality candidates are chosen to make the best decisions for people living in their area.

The State Government has partnered with the WA Local Government Association (WALGA), to create a community engagement campaign 'Vote for them' that emphasises the importance of local government in the day-to-day lives of Western Australians, and the importance for all residents and ratepayers to vote for their local council representatives.

The campaign aims to encourage members of groups with lower levels of voter participation, as well as the wider community, to participate in local government elections.

Local government reforms will be in place for the upcoming elections to strengthen local democracy, including the re-introduction of optional preferential voting to replace the current first-past-the-post system; direct election of mayors/presidents in larger councils; removal of wards for smaller local governments; and council numbers being aligned to the population of the district for more equitable and consistent representation.

Another significant electoral change now in place, involves new backfilling arrangements when vacancies occur within 12 months after an election, which will reduce the need for extraordinary elections, saving ratepayers money.

The Local Government Amendment Act 2023, which passed through Parliament in May 2023, will deliver a range of other major benefits after the 2023 elections, including preventing 'sham' leases, setting state-wide caretaker periods during elections, mandating live-streaming or audio recording of council meetings, and a range of new transparency and accountability requirements, among others.

A second tranche of reforms, which will see the establishment of a Local Government Inspector, and the introduction of Local Government Monitors for early intervention, along with stronger penalties, is in the pipeline to go before Parliament.

Postal ballots for the local government elections will soon be sent out via post by the Western Australian Electoral Commission (WAEC), and in-person voting will take place on Saturday 21 October 2023.

Local government reforms Vote for them

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Page reviewed 27 February 2023