NOT HIS PREFERENCE: Mayor Mick Curran is
NOT HIS PREFERENCE: Mayor Mick Curran is "strongly opposed” to the idea of the State Government introducing compulsory preferential voting for council elections. Patrick Woods

Curran at odds with State plan for council voting

MAYOR Mick Curran is "strongly opposed” to a State Government plan to change optional preferential voting in council elections - first recommended by the Fitzgerald Inquiry - to a compulsory system.

The change is one of a suite of reforms being considered by the State Government.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said such a move would be about consistency across all three tiers.

Cr Curran said the Wide Bay Burnett Organisation of Councils had met with the minister late last year on the matter.

Pre-poll voting opens at Tozer Street, Gympie. March 14, 2016.Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times
Council voting. Patrick Woods

The five mayors in attendance were "strongly opposed”, he said.

"A lot of people want to vote one for their candidate, but some people would like the option to also have an alternative candidate represented on their ballot paper.

"The State Government would be asking the community to mark every box on the ballot paper, which means you're effectively casting a vote for every candidate.

"Some people might be strongly opposed to those candidates.”

Pre-poll voting opens at Tozer Street, Gympie. March 14, 2016.Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times
Voters could be forced to number every ballot in the 2020 council election. Patrick Woods

Cr Curran said it should not go unnoted that the optional system in place now was recommended by the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission, and supported by the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

A change also raised the spectre of more accidental informal votes being cast and of candidates potentially making preference deals.

"I'd like to think our community doesn't need to be told how their going to vote,'' Cr Curran said.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson takes questions after his State of the Region address at the Sunshine Coast Health Institute auditorium.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson. Erle Levey

"In the majority of cases the community will collectively get it right.''

The LGAQ has also taken the State Government to task over the proposal. Its president, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, said reforms had to be a two-way street.

"We will not put up with major changes like this being forced on the sector when there's no robust evidence base to support the changes that the government is proposing,” he said.