Singleton Council Election Eyes Wait for April 5 Court Decision
BY DI SNEDDON
April 5 is the date so many involved in the Singleton Local Government election are anxiously waiting for.
A two-day hearing in the Supreme Court in February followed by the judgement by Supreme Court Chief Judge Beechwood-Jones on March 17, indicates that the December 4 Singleton Local Government election will be declared void.
The situation is a result of the failed iVote system at the December 4 election in which 55 people were unable to access the site and could not vote.
Given there were only a handful of votes between the last few candidates, the Supreme Court declared that it could have had an impact on the election results.
It is likely the April 5 judgement will hear that the election is void and that another election will be held within three months of this date, June or July.
The new election does not involve Mayor Sue Moore as the mayoral vote was not impacted by the iVote option, only that of councillors.
As for now, the nine elected councillors will continue business as usual up until the new election.
The Hunter River Times understands that the potential new election will be held as if a casual vacancy has occurred in civic office which means that it will be held as a by-election and not an ordinary election.
This makes a massive difference to the situation as a by-election eliminates the four-week caretake period. A caretake period prevents the elected councillors from making any significant decisions four weeks leading up to an election and given the timing, this limitation has the potential to prevent determination of major budgetary and planning matters.
While it is early days yet, the situation the current elected councillors in Singleton face is an uncertain, stressful and challenging one.
Current Singleton councillors and candidates from the December 4 election who were not elected are now considering their position.
Mayor Sue Moore said she felt for the councillors and what they face.
She admired the councillors for the manner in which they continued to focus on their duty as elected members and was confident Singleton was in good hands in what can only be described as unchartered waters.
It is also important to note that a new election is open to new candidates, not just those who stood at the 2021 election.
The Hunter River Times spoke to the 2021 candidates this week.