On December 4, the Dubbo local government area will join most of NSW in electing new councillors.
Are you thinking of running? Or just want to know more about the council elections? Here are some of the main things you need to know.
When are the council elections?
Initially, the council election was scheduled for September 2020. However, due to COVID-19 the date was pushed back. Twice. The election will be held on Saturday, December 4.
There will be 126 councils, including Dubbo Regional Council who will be holding their elections.
Who are we electing?
As the Office of Local Government says "there are no special qualifications to become a councillor other than a desire to serve your community". Anyone who is eligible to vote at a local government election is also eligible to stand.
The exclusions include: anyone currently serving a prison sentence, any councillor who has been suspended three or more times for misconduct and serving judges.
In the Dubbo local government area, the vote will be for 10 councillors, two for each ward.
Unlike places like Broken Hill City Council and Orange City Council, the public does not vote for a mayor. A mayor and deputy mayor, as well as the council committee chairs, are determined by the councillors.
The vote to determine the mayor and deputy mayor will be held at an extraordinary council meeting after the election.
Are you running for council? Let us know by emailing email@example.com.
- Monday, October 25 - lodgement of nominations open
- Tuesday, October 26 - applications for postal votes open
- Wednesday, November 3 - Close of nominations and registrations of candidates
- Thursday, November 4 - Ballot paper draw
- Monday, November 22 - pre-polling begins
- Friday, December 3 - close of pre-poll voting
- Saturday, December 4 - election day
How do I nominate/register as a candidate?
The NSW Electoral Commission has six steps for those looking to run:
- Familiarise yourself with the election process and your legal obligations
- Register as as a candidate or group to start campaigning
- Manage and record your campaign finances
- Be nominated as a candidate
- Registration of electoral material
- Disclose political donations and electoral expenditure
Every candidate is required to nominate for the election. The nomination period runs from Monday, October 25 until 12pm on Wednesday, November 3.
There are two ways to nominate as a candidate but it starts with a nomination form. Those looking to run for council can either be nominated by two people in the same ward, or by the registered officer of a political party.
There's a $125 nomination cost for each candidate. However, for those apply as a group, the nomination deposit is capped at $625.
Registering for the local government election is different.
Registration is open now. Candidates have to register for the election to be able to make electoral expenditure payments and to accept political donations.
THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE ALREADY REGISTERED FOR COUNCIL:
How do wards work?
There are five wards in the Dubbo local government area: Wellington, Dubbo North, Dubbo East, Dubbo Central and Dubbo South.
They're divided to ensure an even number of people in each ward.
Residents of each ward only vote for two councillors who have stood in that ward.
The ward system was fist introduced after the amalgamation of the former Dubbo and Wellington councils. And despite attempts by Dubbo Regional Council to change it, it remains in place.
Councillor Vicki Etheridge is trying once again to abolish the ward system. On Monday she's calling for support from her fellow councillors to hold a referendum about the wards.
A candidate does not have to live in the ward they chose to stand for.
Residents can check to see if they're registered to vote, and which ward they're in at: check.aec.gov.au
How much can I spend on a campaign?
In Dubbo, the campaign expenditure is capped at $10,000 for candidates and groups and $3340 for third-party campaigners.
Candidates cannot accept donations or incur any campaign expenditure until they have registered with the NSW Electoral Commission.
According to the NSW Electoral Commission, campaign expenditure is "expenditure to promote or oppose a politically party or the election of a candidate or candidates, to influence the vote at the election".
The maximum penalty for knowingly breaching the electoral expenditure laws is $44,000 and a two-year imprisonment.
How many hours a week does being a councillor involve?
The hours range from week to week and the duties that area required. The Office of Local Government says the majority of councillors in NSW spend between 10 to 15 hours per week on council-related activities.
"Although the time actually required to attend meetings may only take a few hours each week there are many informal duties to be performed, such as preparing for meetings, consulting with the community, facilitating the resolution of grievances of constituents, attending civic and community functions and the like. You may also be required to attend various conferences and seminars," the Office of Local Government said.
Current councillors have said they spend up to 20 hours a week doing council work.
Do councillors get paid?
An annual fee is paid to councillors every year for their work. In Dubbo it currently sits at $84,000 for the mayor and $24,320 for each councillor.
Last year Dubbo Regional Council was reclassified as a regional centre by the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal. It means the maximum amount the councillors and mayor can be paid increased.