Delay of local government elections again
For the second time, local government elections will be postponed across NSW for a further three months due to the current COVID-19 crisis.
The elections were set down for 4 September 2021 after having already been delayed for one year. This will impact around 5,000 candidates planning to stand in the election for 128 local councils across NSW.
Reason for delay in elections
Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock said that the decision was a direct response to the pandemic affecting Greater Sydney. She described it as a difficult one that had been made following consultation with the NSW Electoral Commission and NSW Health.
“We have taken this step to postpone the election to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities, voters, polling staff and candidates”
But Local Government NSW president Linda Scott – a Labor councillor and candidate for City of Sydney lord mayor – said the elections needed to be held this year to uphold democracy and ensure renewal.
Important changes to election dates
The postponement of the local government elections also means changes to the key election dates as follows:
- 25 October 2021 – Close of electoral rolls (6pm) and candidate nominations open
- 3 November 2021 – Close of nominations (12pm) and registration of electoral materials starts
- 5 November 2021 – Caretaker period commences
- 22 November 2021 – Pre-poll voting opens
- 26 November 2021 – Registration of electoral material closes (5pm)
- 27 November 2021 – Declared institution voting commences
- 29 November 2021 – Postal vote applications close (5pm)
- 3 December 2021 – Declared institution voting closes (6pm) and re-poll voting closes (6pm)
- 4 December 2021 – Election day (8am-6pm)
- 17 December 2021 – Return of postal votes closes (6pm)
- 21 – 23 December 2021 – Results declared progressively as counts are finalised by election manager
Voters will be able to participate in the December elections in person, by post or online. Pre-poll voting will begin two weeks before election day.
Implications for candidates
Critically, for candidates the nomination dates have changed. Nominations now open on 25 October 2021 and close on 3 November 2021.
This means that candidates have an extra few months to prepare for their campaign. It is hoped that by this time COVID restrictions may start to ease and candidates will be able to campaign within their communities.
Impacts on councillors and local councils
Importantly, existing councillors will continue to serve their communities for a further three months.
The change in election will not impact upon the mayoral elections due to take place for Mayors appointed by the elected Council in September 2019. However, Mayors elected in September 2020 will continue to hold office until council elections are held on 4 December 2021.
Local councils will not enter caretaker mode until 5 November 2021. This means there is now additional time for major decisions to be made by the existing council.
For more information about the governance impacts, read the FAQ on the Office of Local Government website.
In the anticipation of the elections, many local councils have already planned and organised the induction program for the newly elected Council. This includes planning the ceremony to swear in new councillors to align with the first Council meeting date. These programs will need to be revised in line with the new declaration dates, which are now just before Christmas.
If you are planning the induction program for your Council, then one of our tailored workshops may be ideal to supplement your inhouse program. If would like to discuss the induction program for your Council, please contact Emma Broomfield on 0421 180 881 or or firstname.lastname@example.org