• Tony Bosworth

Quick Explainer – Hawkesbury Council elections

All 12 Hawkesbury Council seats are up for grabs on September 4 when we vote for the councillors who will represent us. Here’s all you need to know…

What’s the story?

It will soon be time to vote in Council elections – polling booths will be open on Saturday September 4 – only 43 days away.

Why do we have to do this?

It’s been five years since the last Council elections. The normal term is four years but because of COVID, last year’s elections were postponed by the state government, with councillors getting an extra year.

Do I have to vote?

Yes, everyone over the age of 18 should be a registered voter and voting is compulsory. If you don’t vote you could be fined.

Who are we voting for?

There are 12 councillor positions. Once they have been picked via the votes we all cast, those winning councillors will vote for a Mayor and Deputy Mayor at a later council meeting.

Do I have a local representative?

No, not exactly. Hawkesbury Council does not have what’s called a Ward system. If it did, specific councillors would cover specific areas of the Hawkesbury. In our system you pick those you want to vote for and any councillor elected should be able to help you with your queries.

Who’s on the current council?

There are four Liberal councillors, two Labor, one Greens and five independents.

How’s that been working?

While there have been a number of issues all councillors agree on, this last year has been characterised by near deadlock on many issues, with the Mayor using his casting vote on no less than 21 occasions to get matters through in his first seven meetings.

A divided council then?

Yes, you’d have to say so. Often split right down the middle.

That old political game of Labor against Liberals?

Strangely enough – no. Labor councillors have often voted with the Liberals – that’s partly why the Mayor, who is a Liberal, used his casting vote, err, liberally - because Greens and independents also have tended to vote together, producing stalemate on many issues.

Why should I care? What do they do at Council anyway? I heard they just pick up rubbish and look after parks.

It is true that many development issues have been taken away from local councils, but yes they are responsible for parks, and playgrounds, sporting and cultural facilities, and emergency management. They also have the role of planning for the future based on what the community sees as their vision for that future.

What questions should I ask candidates?

  • Ask why they are running for council.

  • What are their priorities?

  • What specific attributes and experience do they offer?

  • Are they acting free from external influences or party direction?

  • Are they, or have they ever been, a member of a political party?

  • If they are in a political party, make sure you know which one and find out their policies, which will give you an idea of how they may vote on crucial issues.

  • What is their vision for the future of the Hawkesbury?

That’s a lot of questions!

Don’t worry, we’ll also be asking each candidate those questions, so come back here regularly and you’ll find out a lot more.

How will I know who the candidates are?

That’s a good question. Before COVID, candidates would have been out and about, door-knocking, handing out their leaflets and trying to have a quick chat at railway stations and outside shopping centres, for example. They won’t be able to do any of that this year because of COVID restrictions, so will have to rely much more on social media and online approaches. It will also favour present councillors seeking re-election because most of them are known and already have a public profile. Here at Hawkesbury Post we will be revealing candidate stories and aims.

Is there a benefit to mostly online campaigning?

The major parties – Liberal and Labor and to an extent the Greens – will probably be in the best position because they do have money to spend on advertising. It will be much harder for individuals and independents to break through and get their case heard out there.

But you’ll have all that information on Hawkesbury Post, won’t you?

We will, and this is just the beginning of our election coverage, so stay tuned. We’ll be covering it all.

Are you going to bore me stupid with election stuff?

Glad you mentioned that - we’ll try our best not to, while giving you all the important information you need to make an informed decision on September 4.

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