In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, Queensland now has new laws to maximise public safety, minimise public health risks and maintain democratic processes for upcoming local government elections.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the Public Health and Other Legislation Amendment Bill allowed the Government and the Electoral Commission of Queensland to better respond to the latest expert advice as it emerges.
The latest expert medical advice is that there is no need to change the date for the local government elections or the by-elections.
“We don’t take these steps lightly,” the Minister said.
“Local government plays an essential role in delivering services and supporting communities, and we need to ensure these needs are being met.
“We will always listen to the latest exert medical advice and act on that advice.”
The amendments mean the ECQ will be able to give directions about significant issues, including:
- how-to-vote cards and canvassing at polling booths;
- flexibility around postal and telephone voting; and
- options around the actual election date.
Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam welcomed the Government’s commitment to the March 28 elections but acknowledged the extraordinary circumstances.
“We continue to work in collaboration with the Government throughout this evolving and challenging period for all sectors,” he said.
People are encouraged to take advantage of pre-polling with early voting centres remaining open until 9pm tonight.
For the first time, voting will be offered on Saturday, 21 March as well as on election day, Saturday, 28 March between 9am and 5pm.
Around 270,000 people have already cast a vote at pre-poll and 540,000 people have applied for a postal vote.
In addition, the ECQ is encouraging electors that are more vulnerable to COVID-19, including Queenslanders aged 60 and over, to vote early between 9am and 11am each day.
Additional ECQ staff will be available to provide support for vulnerable electors during the voting process.
Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe