CH locals waiting for polling date

ELECTION TIME: The Central Highlands Regional Council will hold a by-election in the next 12 weeks in accordance with the Local Government Act 2009.
ELECTION TIME: The Central Highlands Regional Council will hold a by-election in the next 12 weeks in accordance with the Local Government Act 2009. Contributed

CENTRAL Highlands residents are gearing up for a by-election before October 17, 2017, following the resignation of Councillor David Lacey.

But locals are eager to find out when they can expect to head to the polls.

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission of Queensland said a date has yet to be finalised however, the council had applied to the Minister for Local Government to conduct a full postal vote.

"Once that decision is made ECQ will formulate a timetable for the election,” the spokesperson said.

"Candidates will be able to nominate online on the ECQ website, or they can lodge a paper form.”

One resident who has already thrown his hat in the ring is former Emerald Shire Councillor Victor Cominos.

Mr Cominos served on the council for three terms and ran as a candidate for mayor in last year's election.

If elected, Mr Cominos said he will establish an electoral office in Emerald so he will be available to the community.

"I have always been community-minded,” he said.

"I have always believed in the practice of accountability, transparency and good governance in local government.”

Mr Cominos said his main goal, if elected, is the prosperity of the Central Highlands region.

"The time has come for council to stop increasing rates, charges and other levies and to live within their means,” he said.

"Expenditure should be determined based on available funds and not on a wish list.”

Chief Executive Officer Scott Mason said the Electoral Commission is likely to advise a date in coming days, and then call for candidate nominations.

"As soon as this information comes to hand we will ensure it is made public,” he said.

This week, council also informed residents that in accordance with the Local Government Act 2009, it is obligated to call for a by-election to fill the vacancy as it is in the middle of the council term.

In the by-election, residents will vote for one councillor to complete the balance of the term until 2020.

Why postal vote?

The 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections for CHRC were all conducted via full postal ballot.

Mr Mason said council had applied for a full postal vote as it believed the option is the best alternative for the area to gain a greater percentage of votes being cast.

"The Central Highlands Regional Council region covers approximately 60 000 square kilometres with significant rural and remote areas and the tyranny of distance for many residents in smaller communities to reach a polling booth on polling day can be extremely difficult,” he said

"The Central Highlands region accommodates a significant part of Queensland's rich coal and resource sectors which involves shift work for employees and contractors and the availability of postal voting for these people provides greater opportunity for them to cast their vote.

"Council believes that the postal voting option is more efficient and effective for council to manage.”

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