Minister ‘dismayed’ at online bullying in council elections

Time to get better: Minister for Local Government David Templeman says behaviour of candidates and community members needs improvement. Photo: Mandurah Mail
Time to get better: Minister for Local Government David Templeman says behaviour of candidates and community members needs improvement. Photo: Mandurah Mail

Local Government Minister David Templeman has expressed dismay about the lack of respect and online bullying by candidates and community members during the 2017 local government elections.

“While I am absolutely delighted to see that we have a record number of candidates nominating for election and a significant increase in the number of postal votes received to date, I am dismayed about the reports of bullying and the underrepresentation of women,” the minister said.

“I call on candidates and community members to show more respect in the way in which they are behaving, as trolling and negativity does not attract quality and diverse candidates.

“If we want a vibrant, diverse and quality local government sector, we must ensure that people feel safe, respected and valued when they put themselves forward.”

Despite a record number of candidates putting themselves forward for election, and a significant increase in the number of postal votes to be returned to date, female representation remains low.

Of the 1,388 candidates, just 481, or just under one third, are female.

Of the 46 candidates for popularly elected mayor or president, a mere seven are women.

The minister said he was in the process of reviewing the Local Government Act, which includes a code of conduct.

”But that will only apply to elected members,” he said.

“The behaviour of candidates and community members is something which everyone must work together to improve.”