Mayor wants amnesty for non-voters
IPSWICH Mayor Paul Pisasale wants up to $2 million dollars in non-voting fines waived for Ipswich residents following a low turnout at Saturday's Local Government poll.
With only some postal votes still to be counted, about 20,000 of the 98,669 enrolled voters in Ipswich will be fined $50-$100 by the Electoral Commission Queensland, regardless of the reason for failing to vote.
Cr Pisasale said the lower than expected turnout was due to a combination of reasons and people should be excused from financial penalty.
"As far as I'm concerned if people have a fair excuse the position should be a zero fine," Cr Pisasale said.
"Don't blame the people. The electoral commission has to take some responsibility.
"Let's just waive all the fines and get on with the job."
The re-elected mayor said the combination of a tiring state election campaign, shocking weather on polling day and a poorly organised election contributed to the poor result.
"It was a terrible day with the weather," he said. "Also because of the ferocity of the state election people were just exhausted.
"There is a whole range of reasons so the people can't be blamed. We can't change the past, we can influence the future, waive all the fines."
When contacted by the QT about the potential fine windfall, the ECQ supplied the following statement.
"ECQ only has the discretion to waive a non-voting fine where the elector has a reasonable excuse. Each case is assessed on its individual merits."
Local Government Association of Queensland spokesman Craig Johnstone said the low turnout was a problem that needed to be addressed.
"We have to wait 10 days from the election date for the final postal votes to be counted before we can make a thorough assessment," Mr Johnstone said.
"But the indications are that we have had a very, very low voter turnout.
"It's a worry across the board but until we survey voter attitudes we can only speculate that it was overshadowed by the state poll.
"That campaign was very negative and long and while it's only speculation, it seems some people just couldn't be bothered to vote."