Tasmania to hold council elections this October

This October, each of the 263 positions around the tables of Tasmania’s 29 councils will be up for election.

Candidates need to be enrolled in the council area in which they are standing for election and live in Tasmania.

Since 2014, council elections are held every four years with each member up for election.

Previously, elections were held every two years with half of the sitting members up for election after a four-year terms.

Mayor and deputy mayor positions were also decided upon every two years.

Last election was the first time a member of the public could seek election to one of the top two roles without having served as a councillor.

The changes resulted in the election of 14 new mayors and 90 new councillors.

Unlike state and federal elections, ballot papers are posted and voting is non-compulsory.

Although there has been debate for years over changing to compulsory voting at ballot boxes, this has not been supported broadly by councils or the Local Government Association of Tasmania.

In fact, only nine councils supported a move towards compulsory voting in 2011.

Voting in local government elections is non-compulsory and done by post.

Voting in local government elections is non-compulsory and done by post.

LGAT further believes the introduction of compulsory voting might lead to an increase of party politics in elections and the potential to skew community representation.

The Local Government Division estimated the cost of running an election in Tasmania would increase by 20 per cent for compulsory voting by post and 100 per cent for compulsory voting at the ballot box.

Just over 54 per cent of ballot papers were returned in the last local government election and the best individual council return rate was 77.5 per cent. 

The average rate was still above that in Western Australia and South Australia were voting is also non-compulsory.

Councillors are paid according to a seven-tiered system. 

Launceston and Hobart occupy the top tier where the mayor is paid $124,188, the deputy mayor $58,397, and an alderman $35,482.

As for smaller regional councils, a mayor is paid between $43,250 and $54,745, a deputy mayor is paid between $24,185 and $28,789, and a councillor between $12,357 and $14,785.

The government last week agreed to LGAT’s request to change the level of campaign expenditure for candidates in larger municipalities.

Regulations, enacted this month, had a new expenditure limit of $8000 per candidate, regardless of whether the candidate was seeking both election to a council as well as election to the mayor or deputy mayor role.

But soon candidates in Clarence, Glenorchy, Hobart, Kingsborough and Launceston will be able to spend $16,000 on their campaigns and candidates in other municipalities will be able to spend $10,000.

There will be no limitations placed on the size and number of posters a candidate displays although it must adhere to the relevant council planning scheme.

There is also no limitation on advertising on television, radio, or in print.

  • To stand for your local council, complete the nomination form available on the Tasmanian Electoral Commission’s website.