Push for compulsory council vote

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury MLA Don Punch confirms he also supports compulsory voting.
Camera IconBunbury MLA Don Punch confirms he also supports compulsory voting. Credit: South Western Times

Bunbury’s leaders want to make voting at Local Government elections compulsory.

In its submissions as part of the review into the Local Government Act, Bunbury City Council this week supported making it compulsory to vote at elections.

The decision will ultimately be up to the State Government, but Deputy Mayor Jaysen Miguel said the council supported the idea in the hope of getting greater voter turnouts.

“You only have to look at voting turnouts in recent years and it’s not great when you’re talking less than 35 per cent of the community voting,” Cr Miguel said.

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“Obviously they’re electing people to make decisions on behalf of the community – so having a greater voting turnout would mean you’ve got a greater amount of the community represented.

“Some people are potentially a bit lazy and might not vote all the time, by making it compulsory they have to.”

Bunbury MLA Don Punch has confirmed he also supports compulsory voting, saying local councils were the only tier of government in the country where it was not necessary.

“Yet it is the tier of government closest to the daily operations of our community,” Mr Punch said.

“Voter turnout is notoriously low in local government elections which does not reflect the significance of the role local government and its decision-making plays in our communities.

“A really high proportion of the concerns raised with my office by community members are in fact local government issues, so it absolutely makes sense to me for more people to participate in the elections that determine who local decision-makers will be.

“Low voter turnout in any election leaves the result susceptible to undue influence from highly motivated minorities and special interest groups – compulsory voting removes that possibility.”

The review is open to the public until March 31.

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