Mayor Greg Williamson. Picture: Rainee Shepperson
Mayor Greg Williamson. Picture: Rainee Shepperson

Council questions hefty bill of flawed election count

MACKAY Regional Council wants the State Government to justify the expense of the March local government election, which cost the region's ratepayers $780,000.

During the council elections both electoral candidates and Mackay voters expressed frustration at how long it was taking for Electoral Commission Queensland to process the results and announce the make-up of the new council.

Mayor Greg Williamson said the council was mostly concerned about the high cost of the 2020 election, which was almost double the cost in 2016.

"Even taking into consideration the 2016 elections were subsidised, this doesn't explain the enormous expenses involved," Cr Williamson said.

He also expressed concerns about the time it took for candidates to view their results online.

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"There were obviously technical flaws with the online system," Cr Williamson said.

The government's Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee has launched an inquiry into problems surrounding the 2020 elections.

However, the Local Government Association of Queensland said while councils were grateful for the opportunity to outline their experience with the online publication of election results, they wanted the scope of the inquiry to be broadened.

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"The issues impacting the online publication of the preliminary and formal vote count were not new," LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said.

"These same issues impacted the 2016 election and we find ourselves in much the same place.

"Councils have overwhelmingly expressed significant concerns about the commission's inability to provide timely updates on the count of votes and to minimise delays in declaring final results.

"We believe the scope of the parliamentary inquiry is too narrow and therefore ask for a wider inquiry to be held so recurrent issues impacting the delivery of elections in Queensland can finally be effectively addressed."

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He called on the committee to also consider the recommendations of the last major review of local government elections.

"After the 2016 local government election, a review by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley produced 74 recommendations for improvement," Mr Hallam said.

"It is the LGAQ's view that these recommendations have not been effectively implemented by the ECQ and that failure to do so once again impacted on the conduct of the 2020 election."

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