Strengthening Mayoral Leadership through Direct Elections

Shellharbour residents will be given the right to directly elect their mayor immediately at the 2016 Shellharbour local government election under a NSW Labor Government.

“Shellharbour is one of the fastest growing regions in NSW, with our population projected to grow by 24 percent over the next two decades,” Labor Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson said.

“We deserve a mayor who is chosen by all of the people, not a handful of councillors in a backroom every year.”

“A directly elected mayor for Shellharbour will have a stronger democratic mandate, and will be able to deliver stable and consistent leadership as they will serve a four year term.”

Shadow Minister for Local Government Sophie Cotsis explained that today’s announcement is part of Labor’s reform agenda to strengthen local government across NSW.

“As part of Labor’s reform agenda, we will make it easier for rural and regional councils to adopt the direct election model.

“Currently, the Local Government Act requires councils to hold a referendum to adopt the direct election model, but this cumbersome process means it can take up to eight years before voters can choose their mayor.

“Labor will allow local communities to adopt the direct election model, provided there is sufficient support to do so.

“Shellharbour Council has already indicated that they would like to adopt the direct election model, and this will provide Shellharbour’s mayor with a strong democratic mandate and foster regional collaboration with Wollongong’s Lord Mayor, who is already directly elected.”

A NSW Labor Government also will move to popularly-elected four year terms for all of Sydney’s 41 local mayors – putting a permanent stop to the revolving door that sees mayors replaced every year.

“Local government can resemble the plot from an episode of Game of Thrones – backroom deals and backstabbing to secure the prize of being a mayor for the next 365 days,” NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said.

Over four years the mayoralty of a local council can pass between Liberal, Labor, Green and independent councillors – hitting the reset button on the direction of a local council every September.

A mayor selected by councillors in September spends the first six months of their term learning the job and the last six months trying to keep it.  That doesn’t provide the good government that ratepayers deserve.

“I want to bring certainty, stability and stronger leadership to local councils by making the mayoralty a prize that is bestowed by ratepayers, not the drawing of short straws in the backrooms.

Under Labor’s plan, Mayors will receive a mandate from their community every four years to implement their local vision and work with other mayors and the NSW Government on the broader policy challenges facing our cities.

Labor is committed to being a constructive and supportive partner with local councils. There will not be any forced amalgamations under a Labor Government.

Read more about Labor’s plan to strengthen mayoral leadership here.