Residents ‘have say’

Residents ‘have say’

South Australians are having their say on the future of council elections and better community representation and engagement, with more time provided to submit ideas on local government reform following a strong early response.

The Local Government Participation and Elections Review is looking at ways to boost voter turnout and tackle historically low engagement – only about 30% of South Australians vote in their local council elections.

Launched in October, the Minister for Local Government has extended the consultation period to the end of March – giving ratepayers and councils an extra month to provide as much feedback as possible to change the sector.

More than 3300 people have already visited the YourSAy website, with the review’s Discussion Paper – which encourages bold and innovative ideas – downloaded over 1100 times and nearly 250 surveys completed.

Eleven councils in metropolitan and regional areas have submitted their feedback – a figure expected to grow over the coming weeks.

A sector-wide response from the Local Government Association will also be provided.

Limiting the terms of councillors to support new candidates and encourage fresh ideas is an emerging theme – more than half of respondents say term limits should be introduced, around 30% disagree and the remainder have mixed views.

Compulsory voting continues to garner support – just over half (52%) back the idea, about 15% are against it while the remainder are neutral.

Exemptions for property and business owners have also been raised.

Changes to the timing of council elections and a shift to in-person voting are also hot topics – around one in four of those surveyed want council elections to be held on the same day as state elections to increase voter turnout and reduce costs, while one-in-three want at least 12 months between elections to combat voter fatigue.

Other ideas to increase public engagement include councils doing more both at and between elections, such as live-streaming and recording meetings, and Q&A sessions with mayors and elected members.

A need for better year-round communication with ratepayers and more youth-oriented events and initiatives to drive participation rates has also been flagged.

South Australians are encouraged to read the Local Government Participation and Elections Review Discussion Paper and submit their ideas at

Consultation closes on March 28 with outcomes set to be published mid-year.

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