The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) has completed a submission to the State Government’ Local Government Participation and Elections Review. 

The review aims to identify ways to improve the community’s engagement through the council term, as well as attract more candidates and voters during local elections. 

The sector submission makes several recommendations against each of the four consultation areas, including:

  • How people engage with their council
  • How to encourage a greater number of diverse candidates
  • How to achieve better voter turnout
  • General election improvements

Several key themes which arose from the LGA’s consultation with the local government sector include:

  • Consistency with state and federal government election processes. Creating greater consistency between councils and other tiers of government will reduce confusion.
  • Good governance and democracy. Ensure any changes to election processes do not devalue the democratic process or create further inconsistency with other tiers, such as limiting terms or mandating candidate training.
  • Communicating the value and role of local government to communities. This includes councils communicating services and outcomes with their communities and the LGASA continuing to recognise and promote the work of the sector. This increases awareness and engagement with councils, leading to a greater number and more diverse candidates, as well as increased voter participation.

Some of the recommendations made to the State Government include:

  • Compulsory voting. Acknowledge compulsory voting as the most effective way to increase voter turnout but further work is needed to balance this against cost and consideration of how this would impact voting processes and candidates. Further engagement is needed with the State Government on how this model would be implemented.
  • Timing of elections. Support changing to a different year than South Australian Government elections to avoid voter fatigue.
  • Term limits. Do not support imposing limits on term length for council members at this time. This is inconsistent with other tiers of government.
  • Real time publishing of nominations. Support candidate nominations being made public in real time by ECSA to increase visibility and transparency of candidates.
  • Lack of nominations. Do not support a lack of nominations to be a trigger for boundary reform. This is unlikely to encourage greater nominations and would be a highly costly process for communities.
  • Council meeting times. Support letting each council decide their preferred meeting time based on individual circumstances.

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