The State Government's change of heart on controversial compulsory preferential voting for council elections is being championed as a win.
The State Government's change of heart on controversial compulsory preferential voting for council elections is being championed as a win. Nastco

Curran: State's axing of controversial election change a win

COMPULSORY preferential voting is no longer on the table for the 2020 council elections, with the State Government dropping the controversial proposal in a move championed by Gympie leaders as a win.

The controversial changes had been proposed as part of the Belcarra Report into council integrity following the scandals at Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Logan and the Gold Coast.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe delivered news of the policy's axing at the Local Government Association of Queensland's annual conference in Cairns.

Mayor Mick Curran said it was a welcome development.

Gympie Mayor Mick Curran
Mayor Mick Curran. Troy Jegers

"The proposal was to make preferential voting compulsory, meaning each box on the ballot paper would require marking,” Cr Curran said.

"Today's announcement means that our community can still 'vote one' for their preferred candidate as well as having the option of marking the ballot paper for more than one candidate, as has been the case previously.

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"It is pleasing that Minister Hinchliffe has listened to the local government sector regarding this issue - the majority of which were vehemently opposed to changing how our communities select their councils.”

Cr Glen Hartwig, who intends to stand for the mayoral seat at the next election, agreed it was a good move.

"Compulsory preferences does have its pitfalls,” he said.

Glen Hartwig
Cr Glen Hartwig. Scott Kovacevic

"I think the State Government's done the right thing.

"It limits the benefit of a particular candidate standing in a division and getting votes as part of a team.”

The LGAQ and State Opposition were also on board with the policy's dumping.

Opposition spokeswoman for local government Ann Leahy said the reforms would have sent election costs rocketing.

A question-on-notice earlier this year revealed the cost of Queensland's council elections would have soared from $17.2m to $27.4m under compulsory preferential voting.