This morning The Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, announced that the local government elections will be held on Saturday, 4 September 2021.
The Minister said "It follows the decision to postpone the September 2020 council elections for 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as requested by the NSW Electoral Commissioner." adding "Local government elections are a vital part of the democratic process and ensure local councils are accountable to their local communities. I look forward to every elector having their say on September 4 next year". The Minister for Local Government announced in March 2020 that the elections were to be postponed to address the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus.
As a result the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act) was amended to confer on the Minister, a time-limited power to postpone council elections.
The amendment, which operates for only a limited period of 12 months, allows the Minister by an order published in the Gazette, to postpone elections for 12 months from the date of the order. The order may be extended for an additional period to 31 December in the year after the order is made.
The OLG advised that the postponement of the next election will not change the future schedule of council elections, and the subsequent election will still proceed in September 2024. Up until today's announcement the Minister had been quiet on the fact that she had NOT initiated a formal order.
It has now been confirmed that this announcement is accompanied by an Order, Gazetted today, with a follow up Order to extend the date through to September 2021 as an Order can only be for a maximum of 12 months requiring an extension to the Order to be initiated. It is of interest that the Minister said, in March 2020 that "It follows the decision to postpone the September 2020 council elections for 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as requested by the NSW Electoral Commissioner." Now, according to the Gazettal below this order is made by reason "that I believe, having regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reasonable in the circumstances to order the postponement."
A spokesperson for the Minister told The Beagle that the decision to postpone the Council elections was made in March in order to provide certainty to Council's around continuity to deliver for their communities during the Covid period that was, in March, had an unknown impact and an uncertain timeline.