Govt votes to pour in cash for election

CUMBERLAND Councillors have welcomed the NSW Government’s decision to provide additional funding to reduce the cost of running next year’s local government elections.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said the Government has listened to the concerns of councils about significant increases in their election costs as part of an Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) review.
She said the Government will provide $19.9 million across the State to fund the NSW Electoral Commission’s (NSWEC) core costs for local government elections such as staff payroll, training, IT system development, and maintenance of the electoral roll.
Councils will now only pay the direct costs incurred by the Electoral Commission in holding elections such as polling booth staff and venues, and ballot paper printing.
“The cost per elector for the next local government elections will be $8.21, compared to $12.72 if no Government funding contribution was provided,” Mrs Hancock said.
On Wednesday, councillors opted to engage the NSWEC to facilitate Cumberland’s election process at an estimated cost of $1.4 million, although thanks to the Government’s announcement that figure will now be slightly lower.
However councillors did raise several issues arising from the conduct of the 2017 election that they want addressed, including Cr Ned Attie who said some polling booths chosen by the NSWEC were unsuitable or didn’t have disabled access.
Noting the concern, Mayor Greg Cummings said there would be an opportunity to discuss the issue with the NSWEC.
There was also criticism of the extended length of time allocated to pre-polling from Cr George Campbell but it was noted that decision rested with the Minister.