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Local councillors no longer punished when running for Federal Parliament.



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http://www.democrats.org.au

Senator Andrew Murray

Australian Democrats Electoral Matters Spokesperson

4 Dec, 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/879

LOCAL COUNCILLORS NO LONGER PUNISHED WHEN RUNNING FOR FEDERAL PARLIAMENT

The Australian Democrats today welcomed changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 that ensure that local councillors cannot be forced by State and Territory laws to give up their local government councillor positions if they stand for Federal Parliament.

Democrats’ spokesperson for Electoral Matters, Senator Andrew Murray, said: “We believe that local councillors should be able to retain their positions while running as candidates for Federal office.

“It would be grossly unfair to insist that they resign in order to campaign. The bill now prevents this from happening.

“Rather, it is imperative that they relinquish their positions in local government as soon as they are successfully elected to federal office. Unfortunately, the bill does not stop dual representative positions being held.

“Our amendments to prevent an MP remaining a local councillor were defeated by the Coalition and Labor.

“While this is essentially a good bill, we were concerned with potential conflict of interest situations where a person holds positions in local and State, and local and Federal parliaments simultaneously.

“The Democrats highlighted the inconsistency of the bill addressing the problem of local councillors standing for election to the Federal Parliament, but not State Members of Parliament standing for election to the Federal Parliament.

“We also believe that there should be compulsory disclosure by all local government candidates of their membership or affiliations to any political party,” said Senator Murray.

“The Democrats are disappointed that our amendments were knocked back.

“However, we are pleased that there are now more incentives to encourage greater participation of local representatives in federal politics,” Senator Murray concluded.

Media contact: Grace Tan at 02 6277 5747 or 0417 174 302