Referendum to cost an estimated $1.775M

Central Coast Council Photo: Justin StanleyCentral Coast Council Photo: Justin Stanley

A referendum to be held on the Central Coast on September 4, the same time as the rest of the State votes for their latest crop of local councillors, will cost an estimated $1.775M (excluding GST).

Residents will be expected to go to their local polling booth to answer a referendum question asking them if they want to reduce the number of Central Coast Councillors down from 15 to nine and if they want to reduce the wards from five to three.

The Coast will not be voting for councillors this time around.

Thirteen of the current crop of 15 councillors were suspended in late October last year.

Two resigned days earlier.

Central Coast Administrator, Rik Hart, agreed, at the latest council meeting on June 15, to engage private provider, Australian Election Company Pty Limited, to conduct the referendum.

Hart said that while Council had previously resolved to engage the NSW Electoral Commission, the Commission has since advised Council that it was no longer in a position to provide the referendum services on 4 September as originally planned and costed.

“The NSW Electoral Commission advised that it may be able to conduct a stand alone referendum in March 2022.

“While serious consideration has been given to this option, this creates a challenging timeframe,” Hart said.

“Should the referendum be carried forward to March, this would leave insufficient time for review and consultation of ward boundaries in time for a potential Council election in September 2022.

“Council has identified an appropriate provider who is able to deliver the referendum service in September 2021 and at a slightly lower cost than the NSW Electoral Commission has quoted.

“For these reasons, and to provide the Central Coast community the opportunity to have their say on this important issue, Australian Election Company Pty Limited will be engaged for the conduct of a Referendum on 4 September 2021, when local government elections are being conducted in NSW.”

Voting in the referendum is compulsory for all Australian citizens over 18 who reside in the Central Coast Local Government Area.

Hart said that realistically, a lower turnout just for a referendum could be expected, but even if only 10 per cent of voters turned out, it would still be a valid referendum.

Merilyn Vale