Editorial: council-run elections save us money, time

IF NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall had his way, all councils would run their own elections.

You can’t imagine it would be met with a great deal of resistance, given it could keep the pockets of us ratepayers fuller for longer.

Mr Marshall was mayor of Gunnedah Shire when it became the first council in the state to run its own election.

In 2012, the council saved $31,000 on the quote provided by the NSW Electoral Commission and delivered a result two days faster than other local council.

Now, Mr Marshall is spearheading a push for more local councils to follow suit and run their own elections to save money and cut down lengthy waits.

Voters across the state headed to the polls on Saturday, September 11 to elect local leaders for the next four years. 

Gunnedah ran its own election and knew the final results by Wednesday.

Voters were happy they knew the result so quickly and candidates were happy to know their fate one way or the other.

But in Tamworth, where the council forked out money for the Electoral Commission to run it, votes were still being counted Friday. 

The simple fact is, council-run elections save ratepayers money. 

Why should we cough up for a service that takes longer and is less efficient?

Money aside, it’s also tough on candidates. Many councillors have dedicated their lives to local government.

It can’t be pleasant waiting so long for votes to be counted to learn whether their community has backed them for another term or called time on their service.

Throw into the mix the complex world of preferential, postal and informal voting, and you’ve got yourself an even longer wait. 

Mr Marshall questioned why it took the NSW Electoral Commission so long to carry out local government elections.

Gunnedah mayor Owen Hasler said given the potential savings he wouldn't be surprised if other councils followed the shire’s blueprint.

Mr Marshall is on the money when he says council-run elections can’t be dismissed. Tamworth incumbent mayor Col Murray also revealed his dissatisfaction with the running of this year’s election to The Leader yesterday.

We can only hope that sentiment sticks around for the next four years and we can all save some money.

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