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

Shadow Minister for Local Government Sophie Cotsis made the announcement today with Labor MP for Shellharbour Anna Watson and Labor Candidate for Kiama Glenn Kolomeitz.

“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.”

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.

“Regional centres like Wollongong, Newcastle, Maitland and Lake Macquarie already directly elect their mayor, and Labor has announced plans to make all mayors in Sydney directly elected if we are elected next March,” Ms Cotsis said.

“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.”

Labor Candidate for Kiama Glenn Kolomeitz welcomed Labor’s announcement that Shellhabour residents will get to choose their mayor.

“Labor will empower Shellharbour residents to directly choose their mayor, giving our community a greater say over how local decisions are made,” Mr Kolomeitz said.

“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.”

13 February 2015