NSW council elections under scrutiny

By Staff Writer

New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees has responded to calls for an investigation into the management and costs of the 2008 local government elections and has referred the matter to a parliamentary inquiry.

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters will review incidences of mismanagement during last year’s elections and provide ratepayers with answers as to how their money was spent.

Local Government Association president Cr Genia McCaffery said the parliamentary investigation would allow the public to scrutinise the NSW Electoral Commission.

“Finally we have the opportunity to get to the bottom of these poorly conducted and expensive elections, and get some answers for our ratepayers on where their money was spent,” Cr McCaffery said.

“The State Government took over the elections saying they wanted to ensure that the people of NSW had Local Government elections conducted with the same level of professionalism and transparency as the state and federal elections, but the management of last year’s elections was appalling.”

The Local Government and Shires Associations claim to have uncovered a number of incidents of mismanagement during the 2008 elections, including unsecured ballot boxes, understaffed polling booths and a shortage of ballot papers.

According to the NSW Shires Association president Cr Bruce Miller, one polling place ran out of ballot papers and told voters to go home even though their names had already been crossed off the roll.

Cr Miller said the Premier had shown a commitment to openness and transparency in calling for the inquiry.

“We look forward to the Committee’s findings and hope they will provide clarity and much-needed answers for councils and their communities,” he added.

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