Quick explainer – Hawkesbury Council elections - and why we won’t be accepting money from candidates
All 12 Hawkesbury Council seats are up for grabs on December 4 when we vote for the councillors who will represent us for the next 4 years. 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 December 4.
Why do we have to do this?
It’s been over 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 to September 4, and then again to December 4 because of the most recent lockdown. It’s meant the current councillors got an extra year, plus three months.
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 – that effectively means he gets two votes in those situations - 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 – in particular when it came to the new committee structure favoured by both Labor and Liberals, but not the Greens and independents.
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 – and more - 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 haven’t been able to do much of that this year because of COVID restrictions, so that’s one reason the election was moved along to this December. Here at Hawkesbury Post we will be revealing candidate stories and aims, and yes candidates are now out and about in the community and posting on social media.
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 December 4.
Hawkesbury Post - where do you stand? We stand with you – our readers. As always, we report fairly, accurately and without bias, and we’ve decided – unlike other media outlets in the Hawkesbury – not to take a cent of advertising money from any candidates. From a financial point of view that doesn’t do us any favours, but we’d rather not owe any favours to anyone either. We live in the Hawkesbury too, and we’re ratepayers just like you, so we will do all we can to get the facts and cut through the fluff and politician-speak.
We will also ask the hard questions. Our approach is never to simply reprint media releases from aspiring or current local politicians - we question everything so you can get the answers you need.
We’ll help you make a properly informed decision when you enter that voting booth on December 4, so stick with us.
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