The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) has welcomed the passing of the Local Government (Casual Vacancies) Amendment Bill 2023 through the Legislative Council of State Parliament yesterday.
LGASA President, Dean Johnson said the Bill avoids the need for costly and unnecessary legal proceedings, supplementary elections or mandatory countbacks and honours the votes cast by ratepayers.
“The impacted councillors and mayors were democratically elected by their communities and while accountability and transparency of campaign donations and gifts is essential, the cost and consequence of them not getting their paperwork in on time was disproportionate and unreasonable,” Mayor Johnson said.
“The outcome reached is a common sense, practical solution that upholds the democratic votes cast by South Australians at the recent local government elections while limiting the cost and impact on communities.”
He thanked the State Government, Opposition and Crossbench for their support to move the legislation through both Houses so swiftly and reduce the impact on councils and their communities.
“We’ve received great support from the State Government on this matter and I thank the Premier and Minister for Local Government, and their staff, for treating it with the urgency it warranted.”
“We also thank the Opposition and Crossbench MPs for the sensible way they have approached this clearly non-partisan issue.
“This legislative change will allow elected members to get back to the important business of serving their local communities.”
With the passing of the Bill, the LGASA will work with the State Government to determine when council members can resume their duties once returns have been lodged, Mayor Johnson said.
At the same time, the Association will work closely with the State Government and the Electoral Commission of South Australia as part of a review of the 2022 council elections. This will seek to identify any improvements that can be made to how elections are conducted and avoid situations like this occurring again, he said.