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One Vote, One Row

By Dan Sowden

A proposal to give non-resident property owners the right to vote in council elections has been met with widespread condemnation on the Sunshine Coast.

The proposal is one of several electoral reviews for Queensland regional councils being considered by an all-party State Parliamentary committee.

The Law, Justice and Safety Committee is examining whether a person’s voting right should be linked to property ownership in an area, and whether business owners and people with many properties should get more than one vote per division.

That means that someone living outside the Coast could conceivably get a greater say in the running of the region than the average resident when the 2012 local elections are held.

South Australia uses a “property franchise” vote, which gives non-residents who own a property in an area the right to vote.

Mayor Bob Abbot said yesterday that the committee’s review – which comes ahead of a new Local Government Electoral Act being drafted – was designed to broaden the scope as wide as possible so that all issues could be discussed.

But Cr Abbot said if that meant people living outside the Coast were given a major involvement in the region’s future planning, it would have “disastrous” consequences.

“What will suffer are our future economy, our environment and our lifestyle,” he said.

“People who aren’t living and breathing the Sunshine Coast on a daily basis would have a very different view of what the place should be like in the future as against people who live here, work here and raise their families here.”

Environment chairman Keryn Jones said the move “harked back to the old days when only landowners had the right to vote”.

Sippy Downs and District Community Association president Murray Lyons said while it could be argued that non-residents who paid rates deserved to have a say in the future direction of an area, their views would probably differ from residents.

Source: Mark Bode – Sunshine Daily

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