Local council elections have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic following the government passing amendments to the Local Government Act last night.
The amendments give the Minister for Local Government the power to postpone the elections for 12 months: that can potentially be extended to 31 December, 2021 if needed.
Local councillors on Byron and Tweed Shire Councils were in support of the need to postpone local council elections if required when the suggestion was put forward by NSWLabor last week.
‘If holdings local election as scheduled endangers public safety in any way, which can be avoided by a delay, then it seems a sensible,’ Byron Shire Councillor, Michael Lyon had told Echonetdaily in response to the suggestion.
The postponement had also been supported by Tweed Mayor Katie Milne who told Echonetdaily that unless the situation with COVID-19 was under control the local council elections should be postponed.
‘The Minister intends to make an order which will be published in the Government Gazette to postpone the 2020 local government elections. It is the Government’s intention that these council elections will be held in September 2021,’ according to a media statement on the Lismore Council website on Thursday, 26 March.
‘Current councillors and popularly elected mayors will continue to hold their civic offices until the rescheduled local government elections are held.’
Byron Shire Councillor Basil Cameron had told Ecohnetdaily in response to the suggestion of postponing the election said that now was the time to focus on needs of the local community.
‘The closures imposed by the Federal and NSW governments will help slow the spread of the virus, but they will also place new stresses on residents and business,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘Our best asset is our community response and we all need to continue to work together to promote and practice social distancing and regular hand hygiene. The better we are at this, the more we will reduce infection rates and lessen the impacts of the current disruption.
‘As the new measures kick in, Council will need to work with community to support vulnerable and isolated people as well as help business to service our community. I expect many generous, innovative and creative responses from the community, as we have seen with recent natural disasters.’
[Updated: Friday, 27March, 2020, 6.45am]