October 15, 2019
The State Government has backed down on a proposal to introduce compulsory preferential voting (CPV) at the March 2020 Council elections.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, speaking at the Local Government Association of Queensland annual conference in Cairns on Tuesday, said optional preferential voting would remain.
This means voters only have to number one square on their ballot paper (although they can number more, if they choose to).
CPV would have brought Council elections in line with State and Federal Government ballots, but the move was fiercely opposed by the LGAQ and local councils who claimed it would lead to an increase in informal votes, delay results and increase costs.
South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell, Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio and Gympie mayor Mick Curran all spoke out against the proposal.
Mayor Antonio said with 10 Divisions and an average 35 candidates in Toowoomba’s council elections, the complexities of counting compulsory preferential voting would be significant.
Mr Hinchliffe’s announcement at the LGAQ conference was greeted with applause from the audience.
The State Opposition also welcomed the decision.
Shadow Minister for Local Government Ann Leahy said CPV would have created “electoral confusion across Queensland”.
The LNP has repeatedly claimed the move was just a bid by the ALP State Government to shore up Labor’s vote in Brisbane City Council elections.
“I congratulate the LGAQ and all council leaders who stood up to the arrogant Palaszczuk Labor Government on this important issue,” Ms Leahy said.
“Labor’s plot to force compulsory preferential voting on councils would have been a disaster for local democracy.”
A question-on-notice earlier this year revealed the cost of Queensland’s council elections would have increased from $17.2 million to $27.4 million under CPV.
The LNP is now pushing for the State Government to abolish CPV in State elections.
Under CPV, votes flow via preferences to other candidates further down the ballot in line with the individual voter’s numbering choices.