Local government Archive


Brisbane City Council – council results

This is the final of my three maps summarising key results from yesterday’s voting in Queensland. You can also check out my maps of the Brisbane lord mayoral results and the referendum results.

Overall, there was a swing to the ALP and away from the LNP, but it hasn’t been reflected in the ward victories.

The LNP primary vote dropped from 57.1% to 49.7%. Labor’s vote only increased from 32% to 33.8%, with the bulk of the swing going to the Greens, who increased their vote from 8.5% to 13.9%. This partly reflects that the Greens only ran in 18 wards in 2012, and ran in 26 in 2016.

On a two-party-preferred basis, Labor gained big swings in many LNP wards, but not in the ones that mattered.

The LNP has held on to all of their wards. Labor has lost its marginal ward of Northgate to the Liberal National Party, and Labor and the Greens are in a tight race for second place in the Gabba ward. Whichever progressive candidate comes second in the Gabba should easily defeat the LNP candidate on preferences.

Overall this leaves the LNP with 19 wards (up from 18), the ALP with five (down from seven), independent Nicole Johnston with her ward of Tennyson, and the Greens currently leading for their first Brisbane council seat.

(When the results are final and there is more time it would be worth examining whether there was an increase in preferences from Greens to Labor giving them those big 2PP swings, or whether it was just a drop in the LNP vote).

The following map can be clicked on to look at the primary votes and two-candidate-preferred figures for all 26 wards. We don’t have two-candidate-preferred vote figures in five wards. Understandably we won’t have a count in The Gabba until we know who is in the top two (although the ALP in winning about 59% in the ALP-LNP count). In Paddington, the ECQ originally conducted a count between the LNP and Labor, but the Greens overtook Labor.

For some reason in Tennyson, Pullenvale and Walter Taylor the ECQ included Labor in the notional count, even though they came third in those wards in 2012. It looks like Labor has again come third, so the ECQ will need to conduct a new count.


QLD election day open thread

Queenslanders are voting today in council elections, and on a referendum to change the constitution to have fixed four-year terms for the state Parliament.

I won’t be liveblogging results tonight as I’ll be out, but you can use this thread to discuss the results, and I might do occasional updates.

Antony Green will be covering the results at the ABC Elections website.

I’ll be doing post-election analysis, maybe late this evening or more likely tomorrow morning, so keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, you can read through my guide to the Brisbane City Council election, which includes profiles of all 26 wards.


Queensland council election – ward map completed

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.55.00 pmIt’s only nine days now until Queenslanders vote for their councils for the next four years (along with a referendum on fixed four-year terms for the state parliament), and I’ve finally finished my Google Earth map of the ward boundaries.

Sixteen councils have changed their divisional or ward boundaries since the 2012 election. Four of these are councils which have changed their external boundaries due to the reversal of a pre-2012 council amalgamation: Cairns, Tablelands, Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton. The restored councils which took in parts of those four, respectively Douglas, Mareeba, Noosa and Livingstone, will all elect their councillors at large without any wards.

The other twelve councils to change their wards are Banana, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Ipswich, Isaac, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redland, Scenic Rim, Townsville and Whitsunday.

You can download the map here.

I’m now focusing all of my attention on preparing my guide to the 2016 federal election, with seat guides due to start appearing in April. I’ll likely return with a small amount of analysis of the results of the QLD election and referendum after March 19, but apart from that I’ll be keeping my head down working on the federal election.


Brisbane City Council guide finished

bcc2016-simpleVoters in Queensland will be voting on March 19 in local government elections, along with a referendum on fixed four-year terms for the state Parliament (which I’ve previously blogged about).

For the first time, I’ve put together a complete guide to the Brisbane City Council elections, similar to those I’ve done for state and federal elections.

The City of Brisbane is the biggest local government in Australia, with just over 1 million residents. The capital city councils in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide all cover a small inner-city section of the metropolitan area, but Brisbane covers a large expanse, more like big-city governments in places like London, New York or Auckland.

Read the guide.

Read the rest of this entry »


NSW council amalgamations – proposals released

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 5.09.31 pmThe NSW government has released its plans for council amalgamations following a lengthy of period of reviews and submissions by local councils.

The government is proposing cutting the number of councils in the Sydney region from 43 to 25, as well as merging other councils in rural NSW.

In this post I’m going to focus on the changes to the region stretching from Port Stephens to Shoalhaven, covering the vast bulk of New South Wales, including about 6 million residents.

This region includes 53 councils, and the NSW government proposes reducing this to 32 councils, with only 14 councils unaffected.

I’ve done some analysis of the political make-up of each new local government area, examining allegations of gerrymandering, and posting some maps showing the stats for each proposed new council.

You can download the Google Earth map of the proposed boundaries here. (link broken)

You can also download the dataset I used here.

My map does not cover rural areas – it only stretches from Port Stephens to Shoalhaven.

Read the rest of this entry »


NSW council amalgamations deadline looms

Yet another NSW government deadline looms today for local councils under the threat of amalgamation, and this time it looks likely to result in a number of significant amalgamations in Sydney and other large urban areas.

The Baird government has pursued a deliberate strategy to encourage councils to agree to amalgamations without using the full force of their legal power, through a combination of carrots (funding for councils agreeing to amalgamate) and sticks (the threat to immediately sack councils which they merge if they don’t cooperate). Up until the latest round of the process, most Sydney councils rejected amalgamation and insisted on standing alone.

With the release of the flawed Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) “Fit For the Future” report, which declared most Sydney councils to be ‘unfit’ due to their size despite giving them the tick on all financial criteria, the state government imposed today, 18 November, as another deadline for councils, with the clear threat of sacking for those councils which don’t consent to amalgamations.

It’s been very unclear as to how much power the state government has to implement amalgamations, short of passing legislation through a Legislative Council which at the moment is opposed to amalgamations. The government has some power to sack councils, and to refer changes to the boundaries commission, but whether they have the power to do this with councils which haven’t consented is unclear.

The Greens have argued that the state government doesn’t have this power, but they have also suggested it will be easier to do so if a council has given a stated preference for amalgamation, suggesting the question of the state government’s power is less clear – and clearly there are quite a few councils which don’t believe that the government doesn’t have the power to force through its agenda.

Councils have been asked to fill in a form indicating their preference for amalgamation, and they have only been given room to write 50 words explaining their decision. In numerous cases, councils have indicated that they agree to a particular amalgamation preference on the understanding that their preferred option remains to stand alone.

It’s hard to pull together information on which councils have made decisions, but here’s a summary of information I’ve found:

  • Randwick and Waverley have previously agreed to amalgamate. Woollahra remains opposed to amalgamation – while the remaining existence of a Woollahra council doesn’t cause immediate problems for a new Randwick-Waverley council, Woollahra would be an unusually small council compared to its neighbours, making it a likely target for a forced amalgamation.
  • Auburn, Burwood and Canada Bay councils have also previously agreed to amalgamate, but their amalgamation only really makes sense if Strathfield, which sits in the middle of the proposed council, is included. Strathfield is strongly opposed to any amalgamation.
  • The City of Sydney remains strongly opposed to any merger, although Marrickville has indicated a second preference to merge with Sydney.
  • Ashfield, Marrickville and Leichhardt have previously been opposed but the three councils all passed similar motions that indicate a preference for the three councils to merge, and the three mayors have met with the minister. The merger appears one of the most likely to proceed.
  • Rockdale and Kogarah councils have indicated a preference for a merger of their two councils with Hurstville to create a St George regional council. Hurstville is open to merging with Kogarah but explicitly rejects a merger with Rockdale.
  • Canterbury sits between the potential St George, Ashfield/Marrickville/Leichhardt and Auburn/Burwood/Canada Bay mergers, but is not part of any of them. It could merge with Bankstown, but it would be an awkward shape for a council. I think it’s likely Canterbury will survive unscathed.
  • The Hills council continues to campaign for a hostile takeover of its neighbour Hawkesbury, and Hawkesbury continues to resist.
  • Warringah continues to be strongly supportive of a single Northern Beaches council, taking in its northern neighbour Pittwater and southern neighbour Manly. Both its neighbours prefer to stand alone, but they have both indicated a second preference to split Warringah between them to create Greater Pittwater and Greater Manly. The planning minister, Pittwater MP Rob Stokes, has advocated for the abolish-Warringah option.
  • Holroyd remains strongly opposed to any merger, which would presumably be with Parramatta. It’s unclear where Parramatta stands on such a change.
  • There’s a series of small councils on the lower north shore, stretching from Hunters Hill to Mosman. As far as I can tell, none of them have expressed an amalgamation preference, with North Sydney gearing up for a fight.
  • The two Central Coast councils of Gosford and Wyong, which already cover quite large areas and quite large populations, have agreed to merge. This isn’t a backup option if standing alone is rejected – it’s their first preference.
  • It was previously assumed that Newcastle and Lake Macquarie were being pushed together to form a Greater Newcastle council which would take a majority of its population from Lake Macquarie, but neither council prefers that option. Lake Macquarie expressed a preference for merging with Wyong, but Wyong has indicated a preference for merging with Gosford, leaving Lake Macquarie on its own.
  • Last night, Newcastle Council voted against voluntarily amalgamating, but expressed a backup preference for a merger with Port Stephens.

This is basically Lake Macquarie’s position:

Feel free to use this comment thread to discuss what comes after today’s deadline.


IPART declares NSW councils “unfit”, set for merger fight

The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has today released its report into the “Fit for the Future” process, which has been the program whereby the NSW Government has been pushing for wide-scale council amalgamations across New South Wales. Despite the rhetoric, the report tells us nothing about the sustainability of local government, while giving us an insight into the state government’s amalgamation agenda. Despite the sheen of objectivity, IPART’s assessment works on the basis that local councils must be bigger, and for those councils which fail to meet the size criteria set by the government, their financial position is largely irrelevant.

The NSW government set a variety of criteria which it expected councils to meet. One of these criteria was the vague concept of “scale and capacity”, which seemed to be code for “bigger”. Today IPART, following the very much non-independent criteria set by the state government, has declared a majority of the state’s councils as “unfit” – most of those declared unfit were because they failed to meet the arbitrary “scale and capacity” criteria, which appears to have been applied to different councils of similar sizes.

The NSW government has used rhetoric that implies that there is no alternative but to merge for these councils, and that they need to do so to be sustainable. Yet most councils declared “unfit” cleared the financial criteria set down, and instead were declared “unfit” because of a big-council political agenda being pursued by the government. It is laughable to call this process “independent” when you consider how the criteria have been framed. Read the rest of this entry »


NSW redistribution, council amalgamations and SA reform

There’s been a lot of electoral news this morning! I’ll try to run through it all really quickly. I’ll be putting together the new NSW electoral map over the next week and I’ll try to find some time to cover the other issues.

NSW redistribution

The Australian Electoral Commission has released the draft map of the new New South Wales federal electoral boundaries.

The federal seats of Hunter and Charlton in the Hunter region have effectively been merged. The seat takes in more voters from Charlton, but has maintained the federation seat name of Hunter.

The seat of Throsby (covering the Southern Highlands and southern Illawarra) has been renamed Whitlam after the former prime minister. The seat of Parkes has taken in Broken Hill, while Farrer and Riverina have consolidated into southern NSW.

In inner Sydney, Grayndler has shifted north, losing Labor areas in southern Marrickville and Ashfield and gaining Balmain, Annandale and Drummoyne. The seat of Barton (currently held by the Liberal Party on a slim margin) has shifted into that gap, and presumably will become a notional Labor seat. The seat of Cook, which covers Cronulla, has jumped the Georges River to take in parts of the St George region.

I’ll be working on my map of the boundaries, which is likely to take most of the next week.

We would normally expect Antony Green to calculate the seat margins for the redistribution, but he’s currently in Canada for Monday’s Canadian federal election. I’m not currently equipped to do the calculations for such a large state but will look into it if we haven’t heard from Antony by the end of next week.

NSW local government amalgamations

We’re still waiting to hear from the NSW government about it’s plans for council amalgamations across Sydney but we’ve gotten a seemingly well-placed report in today’s Daily Telegraph with some details about the proposal, although they are in part contradictory.

In one part, it suggests that Sydney’s councils will be cut from the current 42 to about 20, and that about one third of the state’s 152 councils will be cut. But in the article and on the map there are seven council mergers proposed, which would cut the number of councils by eight – a long way short of cutting 22 councils from Sydney.

It also talks about “as many as 30 rural and regional councils” being abolished, but also suggests a reluctance to touch rural councils – 30 rural councils being abolished is a lot.

The mergers proposed are:

  • Manly and Warringah
  • Canada Bay, Burwood and Strathfield
  • North Sydney and Mosman
  • Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai
  • Bankstown and Canterbury
  • Randwick and Waverley
  • Auburn, Holroyd and southern parts of Parramatta (Granville mostly)

There’s an interesting mix here. Some very small councils such as Mosman, Burwood and Strathfield are on the chopping block, but other small councils such as Hunters Hill and Woollahra appear to be saved. Large councils like Warringah, Randwick, Bankstown and Hornsby are also set to merge, sometimes with reasonably large neighbours.

Considering these discrepancies, it appears these might only be some of the mergers planned.

The report also suggests a delay in council elections until March 2017, although it’s unclear if this would only be for affected councils, or the whole state.

Watch this space.

South Australian electoral reform

The South Australian government has announced plans for a raft of electoral changes, including introducing the possibility of double dissolution elections to resolve deadlocks.

Interestingly, it also involves the abolition of preference voting for the Legislative Council, moving instead to a party list system using the Saint-Lague counting method. This is very similar to how most proportional systems work in Europe.

There won’t be any preferences, with only primary votes used to distribute seats, according to a method which involves dividing the number of votes by a party by the number of seats they have won.

It’s quite a good system to use for list elections, as it is much much simpler than the way we elect our proportional houses in Australia, but it is problematic if it’s used in elections where not that many candidates are to be elected. It would work much better in SA if they also moved to four-year terms for the upper house, and thus elected 22 candidates instead of 11, but I can’t work out if that’s part of the package.

The reforms will be put to a referendum in 2018.


WA council elections – new ward map posted

Western Australia is currently undergoing regular council elections. It’s taken a while to pull together, but I’ve now completed an updated ward map for these elections.

You can download the 2013 and 2015 ward maps from the maps page. It’s quite a difficult task as there’s no central repository of information on wards, or how they’ve changed. If you notice any errors, please let me know.

Most WA councils conduct their elections via postal voting, apart from a few small rural councils which run their own elections. The election day is in less than two weeks, on October 17, although in practice most postal votes will be cast well in advance.


Redistribution updates – ACT and Brisbane

While I’ve been focusing on other projects, two of the ongoing redistributions have been finalised.

I covered the release of draft boundaries for redistributions for the ACT Legislative Assembly and the Brisbane City Council. In both cases, the final boundaries have now been released.

The ACT boundaries were first published as a draft at the end of March 2015, and were finalised in May. No changes were made between the draft boundaries and the final boundaries. You can read my analysis of the boundaries here.

The Brisbane City Council draft boundaries were released in July, with the final boundaries release in late August. There were a series of small changes to wards, while a majority of wards underwent no changes. The newly-renamed ward of Garden City reverted to its former name of Macgregor in the final version. Read my analysis of the draft boundaries here. I haven’t made any changes to my estimates of margins on the draft boundaries, as no polling places were moved on the final version.

You can download the maps from the maps page.

Brisbane ward boundaries are included in the Queensland wards map, which is currently incomplete as a number of other councils are still undergoing changes.

In other redistribution news, we’re expecting the draft boundaries for federal redistributions in NSW and the ACT to be released this month, and then we’ll be looking to see the final versions of the NT Legislative Assembly redistribution, the WA state redistribution and the WA federal redistribution.

I’m currently collecting information on WA ward changes, and in October and November will post updates of Victorian and Queensland wards in time for their 2016 elections.