Mayor Tony Wellington
Mayor Tony Wellington Alan Lander

'Donkeys' would rise in proposed new voting system

NOOSA Mayor Tony Wellington said he saw some of the state's proposed local government reforms flowing from the Crime and Corruption Commission's Belcarra Report as common sense.

But others, still to be agreed, were more contentious in the mayor's personal view, one being proposed compulsory preferential voting for mayoral elections and full preferential proportional representation for councillors in undivided councils.

"In my personal view, a move to compulsory preferential voting in councillor elections could lead to an increase in both informal and 'donkey' votes,” he said.

"If there are a large number of candidates on the ballot - and Mackay Shire, also undivided, had 37 contestants in their last councillor election - then voters are going to have to identify and rank every candidate.”

He said that may be too much effort for many who would simply opt out and either spoil the ballot paper or else number the squares from top to bottom, making the draw position on the ballot paper far more influential, particularly in close results, reducing democratic fairness.

"That, in itself, reduces the democratic fairness of the outcome,” Mayor Wellington said.

"I believe compulsory preferential voting will also encourage more candidates to stand together in blocks, groups or teams, and also to carry out preference deals, thus disadvantaging truly independent candidates.

"Perhaps a better system would be optional preferential voting, where voters get to number either the candidates of their choice or else number all candidates if they so wish?

"Thus, in Noosa, they could choose their six favourite councillors, or else decide to number every candidate on the ballot in order of preference.”