IT would be cheaper and faster for Armidale to run their own local government election next year, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has said, following this month’s council elections.
His experience from his time as mayor of Gunnedah Shire, and the recent council elections, has prompted the state MP to urge councils in the region to run their own elections, and he has urged Armidale to be the first when it goes to the polls next year.
Rather than paying the NSW Electoral Commission, Gunnedah Shire Council ran its own local government election for the second time, following a successful election operation four years ago.
In 2012, the council saved $31,000 on the quote provided by the NSW Electoral Commission and delivered a result two days faster than other local councils.
Gunnedah residents knew who their councillors were on the Wednesday after the elections while the NSW Electoral Commission was still counting votes. The council expects to make a greater saving this time around.
Mr Marshall, who was mayor of Gunnedah Shire when it became the first council in the state to run its own election, will write to the councils in his electorate encouraging them to run elections in 2020.
“Gunnedah has shown twice it is possible to run its own elections without any mishaps, delivering a fast result at a much lower cost,” told The Leader said.
“I think it warrants some serious investigation. If they can deliver the same product quicker and save $30,000, it's not something that can be dismissed lightly.”
Mr Marshall said he could not understand why it took the NSW Electoral Commission so long to carry out local government elections.
“It charges quite a lot and delivers very little,” he said.
“There are many councils across region with less voters than Gunnedah that did not have final results until Saturday. In places like Moree Plains Shire Council, there were only 6000 votes that had to be counted.”
With the newly merged Armidale Regional Council going to the polls in September 2017, Mr Marshall said it should take the initiative.
“Even larger councils like Tamworth Regional need to consider it,” he said.
Gunnedah mayor Owen Hasler said given the potential savings he wouldn't be surprised if other councils followed Gunnedah's blueprint.
“We've demonstrated it can be done successfully without any concerns,” he said.
“Councils are always keen to maximise their service precision and infrastructure, and would rather spend money on that then in other places where it's not necessary. The other benefit is all the people employed are local, so that money is going back into the community.”