The Electoral Commission of Queensland has vowed to get the 28 March local government election results promptly to the people of Ipswich.
ECQ and State Government officials have joined Ipswich City Council leaders at the second Candidate Information Session.
As with the first session in December, about 60 people attended the two-hour event at the North Ipswich Reserve Corporate Centre for the briefing and Q&A session.
ECQ’s Bill Hey outlined the voting and counting process for the election, with pre-polls/postals and on-the-day votes to be counted from 6pm until 10pm on 28 March. Final counting could take several days.
He said while there would only be four divisions (two councillors each) instead of the previous 10 (one councillor each), there would still be the same number of voting booths and votes to be counted.
The mayoralty would be counted first, followed by the councillor contests. He was hopeful of results on the night.
“We will make declarations as soon as possible. Don’t worry, we want this over as quickly as you do,” Mr Hey said.
The ECQ outlined the “unique” situation in Ipswich with the region the only one in Queensland with multi-councillor divisions. This means two different voting systems with an optional preference, first-past-the-post contest for the mayoralty and the first two per division for councillors (with no preferences allowed … voters just have to pick their top two candidates).
Four of the five self-declared mayoral candidates and 14 of 20 councillor candidates were in attendance on Tuesday night. An additional member of the audience said he would be standing as a councillor candidate.
They don’t have to declare until 22 February when the election is officially called by the ECQ and have until 3 March to complete formalities before their name is on ballot papers.
The new divisional maps, which had been approved by the State Government, would be posted on the ECQ website on 22 February.
Former Interim Administrator Greg Chemello, now CEO of Moreton Regional Council, was on hand to brief the audience. He outlined the 50-page Election 101 document he had put together … Ipswich, it’s your council: a candidate guide for Ipswich City Council.
Mr Chemello said he had been proud to play a role in righting the ship in Ipswich and commended residents who had put their name forward as mayor or councillor for the upcoming election. His replacement Steve Greenwood was also present.
Ipswich CEO David Farmer, celebrating his first anniversary in council’s top job, said Ipswich was in a positive place financially and there was much to look forward to with the CBD redevelopment and a new council in place from April.
The Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs’ Rebecca McAnalen, principal advisor to the state’s 77 councils, reminded the audience on how Ipswich came to be under administration, the work of the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) and how the Queensland Government would provide ongoing support to council.
She encouraged candidates to act ethically and responsibly in their new roles and with the Ipswich community, and to “behave well” moving forward.
Candidates and the social media audience posed about 20 questions to the expert panel, mostly dealing with the voting process, election signage and how the new council would be held accountable.
The Queensland Times will be holding a series of public debates for the councillor and mayoral candidates early next month.