Local Government Councils

The following text describes how our electoral system principles and design elements could be applied to Local Government Councils:

Summary: Local Government Councils should be directly elected using multi-member electoral districts and the single transferable vote form of proportional representation, with no exclusionary threshold applying. The voting and counting systems should closely resemble the Hare-Clark systems used in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, but with the transfer values described below.

Multi-member electoral district(s): Council members should be elected from one or more multi-member districts. Each district should return an odd number of members, either three, five or seven. Each district should elect the same number of members, and each member should represent the same number of electors, its ratio of voters to members should be within a range of plus or minus ten per cent of the Council’s average enrolment per member. 

Council structure: Councils should consist of an odd number of members, either 5, 7, 9 (returned from three 3-member districts), 15 (three 5-member districts or five 3-member districts), or 21 (three 7-member districts). The Mayor should have a deliberative vote only. Where the voting is equal the question should be determined in the negative.

Neutral ballot-paper format: The ballot paper format should as clear and simple as practicable, similar to the ballot papers used for the Tasmanian Legislative Assembly. A ballot paper statement should advise voters to mark at least as many preferences as there are vacancies, and encourage them to mark further preferences, but a ballot should be considered formal if it is marked with a unique first preference. Candidates should be listed in columns, with the names of candidates rotated in different positions within each column, using Robson Rotation. Ideally, Robson Rotation should also apply to the order of the columns from left to right across the ballot paper.

One vote, one value: In the rules for counting votes, transfer values should be determined using the Weighted Inclusive Gregory Transfer method presently used for the transfer of surplus votes for Western Australia’s Legislative Council; or the Meek method prescribed in Schedule 1A of New Zealand’s Local Electoral Regulations 2001.

Direct election of all members: Casual vacancies should be filled using the countback system, with Tasmania’s contingency provision for a by-election poll if necessary.

Direct election of Mayor: Mayors should be elected by vote of Council, from the pool of Council members. If they are to be directly elected then the Tasmanian approach should be adopted, i.e. the Mayor can only take their position if they have also been elected as a Council member.

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