The Minister for Local Government could ensure the people of Shellharbour directly elected the Mayoral position by simply amending Section 7 of the Local Government (Shellharbour and Wollongong Elections) Act 2011, Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson, said today.
Ms Watson was commenting following a Shellharbour City Council meeting last night, which agreed to hold a referendum on the mayoral election at the September 2016 local government election.
“The Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole MP, only has to get out his pen and strike out Section 7 of the existing law and the people of Shellharbour would have their democratic right to directly vote for the mayor restored immediately.
“It’s really that simple”, she said.
Ms Watson said that while she welcomed the Council decision to hold a referendum on the issue in the absence of the Minister intervening, the State Liberal Government could still resolve this issue easily by amending the existing law.
“The Liberals have never satisfactorily explained why it was necessary to take away the right of the people of Shellharbour local government area to directly vote for the mayor.
“The Liberals only did so because they thought – probably on the advice of Gareth Ward – that they’d get enough Liberals elected to control the position from the Council’s backrooms with only a vote among Councillors each year.
“I approached the former Minister for Local Government asking him to amend the law to give the people back their right to vote, but he refused to do so.
“This current Minister also shows no inclination to do so either”, she said.
Ms Watson predicted the referendum on directly electing the mayor would be overwhelmingly endorsed at the Shellharbour local government election in 2016.
4 February 2015