Council elections to go ahead


Jessica Micallef

Local council elections will go ahead later this year despite ongoing calls for the elections to be postponed 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state government has confirmed that local government elections will proceed as scheduled on October 24, via postal vote.

Local Government Minister Shaune Leane said the advice from the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton was that it was safe for the elections to go ahead.

“The chief health officer has advised that October represents a period when risk is likely to be substantially lower than at present and there are no compelling public health grounds for the elections to be delayed,” he said.

“The chief health officer has also worked closely with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) and is satisfied that appropriate physical distancing, cleaning and hygiene and workforce planning have all been considered and integrated into the VEC’s COVIDSafe plans.”

However, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) said it was disappointed by the state government’s decision to not defer the state’s council elections.

MAV president Coral Ross said the October elections have been “seriously compromised” by COVID-19.

“We have been calling for a deferral of local government elections for months due to the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on free and fair elections,” Cr Ross said.

“The elections will not have the quality and diversity of candidates that Victoria deserves.”