Kiama Council elections have been postponed from 4 September to Saturday 4 December.
The NSW Office of Local Government (OLG) announced on Saturday that all local council elections across the state have been postponed by three months due to the current outbreak of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The NSW OLG said it would be “untenable” for the Government to encourage electors to leave their homes to vote at a time when many people in the state are being advised not to leave their homes unless it is essential to do so, to limit the spread of the virus.
The Government expressed concerns the current COVID-19 outbreak and restrictions may result in a low voter turnout at council elections that could jeopardise the legitimacy of election outcomes and public confidence in them.
Although Kiama LGA is not currently under lockdown, the NSW OLG said it cannot take the chance that there will be no further outbreaks in regional areas between now and 4 September 2021, which would put council elections in areas such as Kiama at risk.
It was also noted that regional council elections require the movement of personnel and equipment from Greater Sydney to regional areas, which would also risk spreading the virus.
The delay means the current Council will continue to hold office until the election on 4 December, with caretaker mode commencing on 4 November 2021.
To ensure local governments can conduct elections in a COVID-safe manner, the NSW OLG has expanded the eligibility criteria for pre-poll and postal voting as well as allowing technology assisted voting at elections administered by the NSW Electoral Commission.
The current elections had already been postponed once, from September 2020 to this year. However the postponement will not affect the timing of future council elections, with subsequent ordinary local government elections still due to proceed in September 2024.