Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren has demanded the Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, come clean with councils and communities regarding the rise in local government election costs.
The expected increase in costs was high on the agenda at last week’s Local Government NSW conference, with representatives from many councils voicing their displeasure with the state government.
The front page of the Temora Independent this week – “Fury over 88% election cost rise” – summed up councils’ anger and frustration.
The state government requested the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) investigate the costs to hold local government elections.
Under the existing structure, the state government covered 8 per cent of the election costs.
The NSW Electoral Commission recommended the government cover 35 per cent of the costs while IPART recommended the government contribute just 5 per cent of the costs – meaning councils would be forced to pick up the tab.
The IPART also recommended a raft of changes to prevent the NSWEC from having a “monopoly” over the running of council elections – effectively promoting the privatisation of local elections.
To date the Minister Local Government, Shelley Hancock, has refused to reveal whether the government will adopt the IPART’s recommendations.
The next local government election will be held in September 2020.
“Make no mistake, while the bill may be addressed to the councils, it will ultimately be communities who are forced to pick up the tab,” Mr Warren said.
“This is a bad deal for councils and a horrific result for communities.
“This cost-shift happy NSW Liberal and National government are continually pillaging the bank accounts of councils and communities throughout the state.
“The next local government elections will be held in less than a year so the state government must come clean and reveal what recommendation’s from the IPART report will be adopted.”