Residents who were hoping to seek election to their local council in September will have to keep their powder dry for a little longer than they had planned.
To provide certainty to councils, communities and potential candidates, the NSW Government has made the decision to postpone the September local government elections in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.
The elections will now be delayed for a year and held in September 2021.
However if the need arises the elections can be postponed even longer to December 31, 2021.
The NSW Government says the decision to postpone the elections is necessary to ensure the health and safety of voters, NSW Electoral Commission staff and election candidates.
Current councillors and popularly elected mayors will continue to hold their civic offices until the rescheduled local government elections are held.
Mayoral elections will need to be held for mayors elected by councillors in September 2018 when their two-year terms expire this year.
Mayors elected in September 2019 will continue to hold office until September 2021 once the new election date is gazetted.
The postponement of the next elections will not change the future schedule of council elections, and the subsequent elections will still proceed in September 2024.
The Office of Local Government has issued a circular to provide further
information to councils on elections.
In other local government news related to the coronavirus, councils in NSW can now hold meetings remotely.
Amendments have now been made to the Local Government Act to allow councils to meet remotely to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and ensure compliance with the Public Health Order.
The amendments take effect immediately and will operate for six months.
This means that councillors can now participate in meetings by an audio-visual link instead of attending in person.
Council meetings can be held entirely remotely by audio-visual link.
Alternatively, where councils continue to meet in person, individual councillors are permitted to participate in the meeting by audio-visual link.
Requirements for members of the public to be permitted to attend meetings can now be satisfied by livestreaming the meeting.