The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA) have applauded the recent passage of the Local Government Amendments (Elections) Bill 2011 in the NSW parliament, which enables councils in NSW to conduct their own elections.


President of the Shires Association, Cr Ray Donald, has praised the Bill, which gives autonomy to councils to appoint an independent returning officer and manage their own elections.


"The introduction of this Bill shows that Premier O'Farrell and Minister for Local Government, Don Page, are true to their word," said Cr Donald.


"We are very pleased that they have followed through on their election promise to return the ability to conduct elections back to councils. Councils now have complete autonomy to manage elections in the way they feel is best suited to their individual council," he said.


"We were extremely pleased to see Minister Page introduce the Bill. The Government publicly supported the LGSA's position that councils are better off spending their revenue on community infrastructure and services rather than on exorbitant external costs for conducting elections."


"Councils now have the flexibility and choice to determine if they will manage the elections themselves, or to appoint the NSW Electoral Commission to do so. Councils will now be fully aware and able to manage the costs associated with running elections themselves."


As outlined in the LGSA's NSW Election Priorities 2011, the sudden increase in costs for the 2008 Local Government elections and the cost shift from the NSW Government to councils totalling $9,050,150, made it clear that the responsibility of conducting Local Government elections should rest with individual councils.


President of the Local Government Association, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, noted that the LGSA have lobbied extensively for these changes for a long time.


"This is a huge win for Local Government. Councils across NSW have lobbied for the ability to run their elections locally, with an independent returning officer, for many years," said Cr Rhoades.


"The ability to run council elections locally was a key component of our NSW Election Priorities 2011, and we are pleased to see it honoured by Premier O'Farrell and his team," he said.


"By returning the conduct of elections to councils we will now see more council revenue spent on community infrastructure and services. This will restore community involvement and engagement in the Local Government election process."


"This Bill returns not only the power, but also the financial resources back to communities. It will also provide speedier results for candidates and communities."

"We also support the provision that increases the period by which by-elections can be dispensed with. This sensible provision will solve many problems and save in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars for individual councils."