Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 52 - Local body election practices

Project No. 52

Commenced: 1974
Completed: 1975

In respect of (a) in the Terms of Reference, the purpose of s 143 of the Local Government Act 1960 (WA) was to enforce mandatory disclosure of the name of the person printing or authorising an electoral advertisement, handbill or pamphlet. The Commission’s attention was drawn to two articles in periodicals which might have had the effect of promoting candidates for local body elections but which did not appear to be subject to the provisions of s 143.

The Commission was asked to specifically look into the issues contained in (b) of the Terms of Reference following a complaint made to the Minister for Local Government that sitting councillors had access to electoral rolls after they had been used in local government elections and had been marked to show which persons had voted. It was claimed that this gave sitting councillors an advantage when campaigning in subsequent elections.

With regard to (c) in the Terms of Reference, s 140 of the Local Government Act 1960 (WA) lists the acts that constitute bribery. This section did not include the provision of transport for voters, which was a widespread practice.

Terms of Reference

In 1974 the Commission was asked to consider and report on:

  1. whether s 143 of the Local Government Act 1960 (WA) should be extended to cover printed materials at present excluded from its ambit;
  2. the extent to which access should be restricted to copies of local body electoral rolls which have been marked to indicate who voted; and
  3. whether s 140 of the Act should be amended to expressly include within the definition of bribery, the transport of an elector to and from a polling place by a candidate or his supporter, with a view to influencing the elector’s vote.

Outcomes

In 1995 the Government enacted the Local Government Act 1995 (WA) as part of a comprehensive reform of local government. This Act incorporated the first recommendation of the Commission, regarding the authorisation of electoral materials. No provision was included to ensure that election rolls are retained for two years. However, Parliament stated a clear intention that each local council be authorised to make regulations concerning the disposal or retention of electoral material.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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