Regional councils ‘disappointed’ with low number of local government appointments

Several regional councils in South Australia face an uncertain future after a lack of nominations for elected members and mayors in local elections.

The nominations were made public last night and revealed that Southern Mallee District Council, Coober Pedy District Council and Tumby Bay District Council all had just two candidates for councillor, with seven, eight and six vacancies to be filled respectively.

Under the SA Local Government Act, all councils must have at least half their seats vacant to form a quorum and allow meetings to be held.

Boards with an odd number of vacancies like Southern Mallee must add one to fill quorum.

Coober Pedy District Council will not hold council elections, following local government minister Geoff Brock’s decision to extend the administration of the council until 2026, pending the outcome of inquiries of the state government’s Coober Pedy Task Force on Towns Debt Resolution and Utilities Crisis.

Coober Pedy District Council is under administration. (ABC News: Patrick Martin)

Meanwhile, in Southern Mallee District, Acting Chief Executive Matthew Sherman said he was disappointed and surprised at the lack of local community support for the council.

“We have been put in a difficult situation, but we will work with the local government office and come out the other side,” he said.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (ECSA) said that councils with insufficient elected member nominations would be required to hold a supplementary election, which according to the Local Government Act “shall take place as soon as possible after the occasion of the election presents itself”.

The ECSA confirmed that the timetable for the supplementary elections would be announced after consultation with the councils concerned.

A wall with a sign on it depicting a paddock, water, and wheat.
The Mayor of Southern Mallee District Council is elected from the council.(ABC Riverland: Sam Bradbrook)

“I thought we could fill those positions, I thought there were enough people in the community who wanted to raise their hands to be on the board,” Sherman said.

“I don’t know what happened in the last year or so that caused this, but it’s a bit of a situation.”

Mr. Sherman confirmed that he would remain in his acting position until a quorum is formed to make decisions regarding the main business of the board.

He said the LGA had indicated that the current elected members would complete their terms in November as planned.

E-gate issues

Tumby Bay District Council is in a similar position and chief executive Rebecca Hayes said the council has significant challenges ahead.

“We have some amazing people in our community who can work hard and have a really amazing impact for the community and the district as a whole, so I’m not sure why we couldn’t attract more,” she said. declared.

She said the introduction of an electronic portal to nominate council candidates this year had caused problems.

A placard inside the headquarters of the SA Electoral Commission.
The South African Electoral Commission will consult with relevant councils to discuss the timing of supplementary elections. (ABC News: Tony Hill)

“While the portal works very well, for regional councils one of the key aspects of previous elections was that you could actually see who was nominating,” Ms Hayes said.

“We couldn’t do that this time around…and it made a difference for people.

“That probably worked against us to some extent and I think the regional councils are feeling that.”

Other SA councils without enough elected members to fill all vacancies, but enough to form a quorum, include Copper Coast Council, Kimba District Council, Mount Remarkable District Council, Streaky Bay District Council and Wudinna District Council.

Kingston District Council and Robe District Council both had more than enough elected member nominations, but no mayoral nominations.