Illawarra Newsroom

Marsh tables bold idea as Covid-19 forces council elections to be deferred

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Mayors and Councillors across the Illawarra's three Local Government areas will retain their positions for an extra 12 months after the state government decided to postpone going to the polls for a year because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The local council elections which cost 43 million dollars to hold across the state will now be held in September 2021.

Local Government Minister and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said the move is necessary to ensure the health and safety of voters, Electoral Commission staff and election candidates.

"I think it's just prudent with everything that's going on that we just defer for 12 months then there's some certainty," Hancock said.

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Shellharbour Councillor Kellie Marsh said the state government has made the right call and has a bold idea for all councils in New South Wales.

"What I'd now like to see is consideration from the local councils that collaboratively would have spent 43 million dollars on the NSW council elections to look at putting some of that money straight into community now to help the local business owners and tennants of theirs who are struggling due to this Corona crisis," she said.

Marsh also said that she will be putting the heat on her colleagues at their next web meeting in early April to tip in some of the money Shellharbour would have spent to help out locals impacted by the virus.

"As a leadership team and Councillors we need to show community that we're right there with them through this crisis and part of that will be assistance packages," Cr Marsh said.

Hancock dismissed claims that it is too early to defer the local council elections until next year.

"We've had to make some pretty tough decisions in terms of deferral because I know a lot of people are geared up and ready to go.

"We cannot in all good conscious keep these elections on in September.

"We have to delay for the safety of everybody concerned," Hancock said.

Written by: Travis Winks

Images: Supplied and Rob Gooda