By Jessica Micallef
Hume councillor Joseph Haweil is calling for the municipality’s October election to be deferred.
Cr Haweil wrote to the minister for local government Shaun Leane, asking for the upcoming Hume election to be rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said councillors across metropolitan Melbourne were “deeply occupied” with supporting their residents through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a councillor in Hume, I represent Australia’s COVID-19 capital,” he said.
“My role is to be focused entirely on discharging my responsibilities to Hume residents and ratepayers and assisting our council organisations to respond robustly and effectively to the many challenges that the pandemic has imposed on our municipality.
“The deterioration of the situation in Victoria should leave no doubt that the sole priority of those representatives closest to the community should be addressing the implications of the unfolding situation.”
Cr Haweil said the priority of “thousands” of Hume residents was navigating through family, education, employment and financial issues brought on by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
The Aitken Ward councillor said with the reimposed stage three lockdown put on all Melbourne residents, it remained unclear how key components of an electoral process would proceed.
“This includes fundraising, door knocking, genuine and effective training of candidates, arrangement of campaigning, material, engagement with the community on matters of importance to them and general campaigning,” he said.
“These restrictions mean an equitable and democratic landscape cannot exist in these circumstances.”
Victorian local government elections are scheduled to go ahead on October 24 via “Safe and secure” postal votes, despite a Municipal Association of Victoria push to postpone the elections until next year.
The state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton advised the state government in May that it was safe for postal elections to proceed.