TURNS out that the Minister for Local Government, Shaun Leane, could postpone the election in Bass Coast if he wanted to.
Here’s a response from the Victorian Local Government Inspectorate when asked by the Sentinel-Times if the Inspectorate could recommend postponement in light of the sensational allegations involving one of the candidates in the poll, Cr Les Larke, and the extent to which other councillors were involved in releasing confidential information in an effort to impact the outcome of the election.
Response provided by Acting Chief Municipal Inspector Dr John Lynch:
“The Local Government Inspectorate’s investigation into Bass Coast Council is ongoing. The Inspectorate has no role in advising the Minister regarding postponement of elections.
“Section 257(1) of the Local Government Act 2020 requires a general election of councillors for all councils to be held on October 24, 2020.
“The Minister’s ability to change the election day under specific circumstances is set out in section 257(4).”
Section 257(1) of the Local Government Act 2020 says as follows:
(4) The Minister may change the election day under subsection (1) if the Minister:
(a) is satisfied that an event or circumstance could adversely affect the conduct of the general election for all Councils or for one or more Councils if the general election were to be held on that day; and
(b) has requested advice from the VEC in relation to the proposed change to the election day; and
(c) has considered the advice provided to the Minister by the VEC.”
By way of background, the Inspectorate noted that the Act states the election must be held for ‘all councils’ on the fourth Saturday of October – obviously the date in this quote is specific to this election as three councils will not be holding elections this year.