Election day goes ahead despite mounting virus concerns
LOCAL government elections are still scheduled for March 28 after advice from the Queensland Chief Health Officer.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the elections did not need to be delayed at this stage.
He said discussions would continue with health authorities and the electoral commissioner and engagement with councils and peak bodies.
"We will always act on the latest expert advice and will continue to seek updates," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"Based on current advice, local government elections will be held on Saturday, March 28.
"That's not to say things may not change in the future.
"We will always respond to the best and most current health advice."
It came after he and Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath discussed the matters with mayors and CEOs from across Queensland.
"Conversations are being held about volunteer staffing at polling booths, how-to-vote cards, postal vote supplies and how to best address the needs of vulnerable people, including the elderly and people living with disabilities," he said.
"Early voting stations have opened at about 150 sites across Queensland and more information is available on the Electoral Commission Queensland website."
Griffith University senior lecturer in politics Dr Paul Williams said at this stage he thought voter turn out would be down, though not dramatically.
Dr Williams said the impact would be worst in heavily populated areas with a drop of 2-3 per cent likely.
He said people weren't mixing in big crowds with numbers at cinemas and restaurants well down.
"This is a real test for the ECQ and its resources," he said.
"It needs to be funded generously so that everyone that wants to vote, has the opportunity to do so."
Will you be voting early to avoid crowds?
This poll ended on 29 March 2020.
Yes, it's the smart thing to do.
No, I'll be fine.
I'm not sure yet.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Candidates have failed in calls to the Electoral Commission Queensland to extend postal voting applications by two weeks.
Former One Nation state leader and Division 7 candidate Steve Dickson said residents had told him they were "in fear of leaving their homes", particularly elderly voters with existing health concerns.
Division 10 candidate Hilary Wallace agreed, saying voters should be given more time to consider their options.
She emailed the ECQ seeking an extension to the cut-off date and time of the postal vote application.
"I know that there are many voters who are now very concerned about their health and safety as a result of the spread of the coronavirus and what it means for our local election," Ms Wallace said.
"Many of those concerned were planning on either attending the pre-polling station in Nambour or voting on the 28th.
These voters would now feel much safer if they could submit a postal vote."
The cut-off for postal vote applications was set to be 7pm last night.