Local Government (Members Contesting State Elections) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

(Continued from 3 August 2017.)

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:03): I rise to speak to the Local Government (Members Contesting State Elections) Amendment Bill. I commend the member for Unley for bringing this bill to the house. We are seeking to address the issue of mayors and local councillors running for state parliament, and to provide a consistent approach across all councils, placing an obligation on local councillors and mayors to step aside from their duties and functions while they canvass for elections in an Australian parliament.

For instance, with regard to registered political parties, this leave would commence from the issuing of state election writs and end at the closing of the polls. In regard to Independents or non-registered political party candidates, the leave would commence from the close of nominations and end at the closing of the poll.

We want to make sure there is full transparency. These amendments, which will be made to the Local Government Act 1999, refer to providing automatic leave for all candidates from the issuing of the writs, and no penalties to apply, for example, and no loss of allowances. The candidate would continue to be a local councillor or a mayor until the casual vacancy came into effect from the date of election to parliament.

What we are trying to offset is retirements and then costly council by-elections taking place to fill that vacancy. Obviously if someone retires from council and their place is picked up, they do not have any opportunity to go back. I note that there are arrangements for public servants, whether they be serving police officers or other levels of public servants, where they can make sure that they can resume their employment if they are not elected.

I certainly understand that that is the case for corrections officers, who have a similar undertaking. They can essentially take the appropriate allowance to run as a candidate. They go through a process of stepping aside, and then if they are not successful, there is a streamlined passage to go back into the role they were doing before the election. What we are trying to do is give that same certainty to mayors and councillors in local government who are having an attempt at representing at the state level. I think it is a very smart move and I commend the speedy passage of this bill through the house.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.R. Kenyon.