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Landlords and business owners may be given more than one vote in council elections


CourierMail.com.au


BUSINESS owners and people who own more than one property could get extra votes in local elections in a move being considered by a parliamentary committee.

The idea that a person's voting rights should be tied to the number of rates bills they pay is among several electoral reforms for regional Queensland councils being examined by an all-party State Parliamentary committee.

A "property franchise" vote, which is used in South Australia, gives non-residents with a financial stake in an area the right to vote.

The review also questions whether a person should be given more than one vote per division based on the number of properties they own.

"The greater your financial commitment to the area, the greater your say should be in what happens in that area," the review states.

"Conversely, arguments against property-based franchise support the view local governments should represent and reflect the will of the people living in the local area."

Other ideas under consideration include whether to allow mayors to be appointed by councillors rather than being popularly elected, and whether voting should remain compulsory. Optional proportional representation in local elections to be used alongside the existing first-past-the-post system is also being examined.

The Law, Justice and Safety Committee's review into local government elections, excluding Brisbane City's, comes ahead of a new Local Government Electoral Act being drafted.

Local Government Association of Queensland executive director Greg Hallam (inset left) said property-based voting never existed in Queensland and would be a "step backwards". "When it was introduced 200-odd years ago you didn't get a vote if you were a renter," Mr Hallam said.

"I understand that in a proper, thorough review they throw up all sorts of possibilities - they are genuine alternatives.

"But some of them are steps backwards into history."

Mr Hallam said there was also no support among local councils for the appointment of mayors.

"Mayors would become beholden to their colleagues and all sorts of deals would have to get done for people to hold power," he said.

"A popularly elected mayor has a mandate and a direct connection to the community."

To read the review or to make a submission visit www.parliament.qld.gov.au/ljsc

Submissions close on July 30.



COMMENT
It is good to see LGAQ Executive Director Greg Hallam supporting the direct election by the people of the Prime Minister and State Premiers to avoid them becoming "beholden to their colleagues and all sorts of deals would have to get done for people to hold power".  As he has often said: What's good for local government should be good for state and federal government.

PaulGTully@gmail.com