2020 council elections: what is the future of local divisions

31 January 2019

Almost six months into administration, Ipswich City Council is about to tackle one of the most vexing issues for the Ipswich community: the councillor electoral model for the March 2020 local government elections.

Council will be asking the community to look into five models for consideration before asking the State Government to set something in stone for 2020 and beyond.

Whatever option is favoured for councillors, voters will still be picking their mayor by a popular vote across the local government area.

Interim Administrator Greg Chemello said in early March 2019, council will launch a month of community consultation and engagement to seek residents’ views on their preferred local government electoral structure model.

“Council has conducted a review of the current electoral structure and believes that it does not comply with the principles noted in the Local Government Act,” he said.

“By 1 March 2019, I am obligated under the Local Government Act to advise the Minister of council’s desire for a formal review by the state’s Boundaries Commission.”

Mr Chemello said a comprehensive discussion paper will be released, which provides an overview on the current divisional structure as well as five models for consideration, with advantages and disadvantages noted for each.

“The community will be asked to share their views and preferences via an online survey,” he said.

All council community offices and libraries, as well as the customer service centre and administration centre, will be able to provide access to iPads and hard copies of the survey for residents without access to the internet.

A community information evening will be held in March, hopefully with representatives from three local councils who will present their thoughts and experiences on the model relevant to their council.

“The community’s views and preferences will be included in a report prepared by council at the end of the community engagement period, which will also include council’s preferred model and recommendation,” he said.

“This report will be presented to the Minister for Local Government who will then consult the state Change Commission for their recommendations.”

The Local Government Act provides that the Change Commission gives the results of its assessment to the public and to the Minister.  The new boundary arrangements are then formally put in place by the state through a regulation signed by the Governor in Council.

Mr Chemello said there are no immediate plans to shut down or relocate any of Ipswich’s community offices – any decision on community office numbers and location can only be made after the divisional arrangements have been finalised.

More details will be released from council in coming weeks.

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