WA communities regain control of council elections

By Staff Writer

West Australian councils are celebrating a major win, following the passage of legislation to reinstate the first-past-the-post voting (FPTP) system in State Parliament.

The WA Local Government Association (WALGA) said the legislation would effectively prevent political parties from manipulating council elections.

WALGA president Bill Mitchell welcomed Local Government Minister John Castrilli’s decision to abandon proportional preferential voting (PPV) system before the October elections.

“There was very little time and significant resistance from the various government departments to have this change made in time for the October elections but the Minister has pushed through all that,” Cr Mitchell said.

“Given that the legislation had lapsed previously and that the timeframe was down to just two days, the Association was preparing the sector to accept that the change would not be made in time.”

He said FPTP was more transparent than the complex PPV system, because candidates only required the support of their local community.

“Under the PPV system there is a greater focus on running mates and back room deals that mostly suit the organised, larger political parties,” Cr Mitchell said.

“The move back to FPTP returns control of council elections to the community and lessens the influence and potential manipulation by the major political parties.”

WALGA has been opposed to the PPV system since it was introduced by the previous State Government. During the 2007 local government elections, WALGA ran a television and print advertising campaign against PPV.

Local Government Minister John Castrilli said the return to FPTP voting was an important step in protecting local government from the influence of major political parties.
“It is a fairer, simpler system which makes the electorate process easier to understand and more accessible to people with a genuine interest in dealing with local issues and serving their local communities,” he said.

“First-past-the-post voting not only removes the potential for political or other tickets to be run, but the system will also mean election results will  be known in a very timely manner.”

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