Small numbers prompt Bunbury vote call

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury City Council ballot returns are again low.
Camera IconBunbury City Council ballot returns are again low. Credit: South Western Times

Bunbury electors are being urged to vote ahead of this weekend’s Local Government Election as voter numbers sit at a “disappointing” level, according to Mayor Gary Brennan.

While Bunbury City Council elections – like many surrounding local governments – are renowned for attracting a poor voter turnout, Mr Brennan hopes the numbers will pick up before Saturday’s 6pm cut off.

“It is very low, however that’s in line with previous elections where there hasn’t been a Mayoral election,” Mr Brennan said.

“It’s disappointing from a democratic point of view, however I understand people have got the right to make a decision to vote or not.”

As of Wednesday, just 5506 ballot papers had been returned from the 22,750 posted – equating to a 24.2 per cent return rate.

That is on par with Dardanup and Harvey shire councils, which yesterday sat at 23.8 and 22.3 per cent respectively, while Capel Shire Council was leading the way on 30.5 per cent.

Mr Brennan said increasing interest in local government elections could be put down to a combination of factors, including candidates’ campaigns and knowledge of how the voting works.

He said candidates needed to “work very hard” and while a few had campaigned vocally, others had kept “a very low profile”.

“That contributes in some respects,” he said.

“(Also) electors aren’t familiar with some of the candidates and probably don’t feel inclined to make a vote, but importantly electors don’t need to number or tick six names.”

“Even if electors don’t feel inclined to return their ballot papers because they can’t decide on six, just tick the boxes of the ones they want to vote for and submit that.”

On Tuesday the council farewelled councillors Murray Cook, Brendan Kelly and Monique Warnock in their final meeting after electing not to renominate.

“The commitment of council members over a minimum of four years is quite a significant commitment and each of the retiring councillors have made an impact in our community,” Mr Brennan said.

“Their work and effort and contribution is much appreciated.”

A total of 16 candidates are contesting for Bunbury.

Voting closes at 6pm Saturday with voters now advised to drop ballot papers at the council offices, rather than posting them.

Mr Brennan said he was looking forward to seeing what the new-look council would look like.

“I just thank the candidates very much for nominating, obviously they have great pride in Bunbury and the mere fact of nominating for council demonstrates that pride and commitment they have,” he said.

“I wish all candidates well and I’m looking forward to attending the count on Saturday evening to congratulate those elected and to thank those that stood.”

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