750,000 vote in Qld council elections today despite virus
MORE than a million people have voted early in Queensland's local governement elections which have been overshadowed by the threat of coronavirus.
Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam thanked voters for heeding the health advice of the state's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young and turning out to have their say.
Just over 750,000 are reported to have voted on Saturday.
👩💻 Just in: Just over 750, 000 people cast their vote today. Thank-you to all who responsibly cast their votes today - and over the last few weeks - to elect the level of government who will continue to guide #QLD communities through challenging times ahead. #LGE2020— Local Govt Assoc QLD (@LGAQ) March 28, 2020
Brisbane is Australia's largest council and has been held by the Liberal National Party since 2004.
Adrian Schrinner was sworn in as Lord Mayor last year when Graham Quirk resigned.
He is now in his first race for the job against Labor candidate Patrick Condren.
The former television journalist is his biggest threat.
Mr Condren expects the result could be days away.
First results are coming in, and with 2.5% of the vote counted, Paul Antonio has 70% of the first preference vote. If this continues, he will easily be re-elected Mayor of @toowoombaregion @the_chronicle_ https://t.co/LUk4lTbqZk— Tobi Loftus (@tobiloftus) March 28, 2020
Ipswich and Logan will also be watched with interest after the mayors in both regions were punted from office following investigations by the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Queenslanders will also be voting new members of parliament into two state seats.
They are Bundamba, left vacant after the resignation of long-serving Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller, and Currumbin, a seat held by the LNP's Jann Stuckey before her shock exit from politics.
These polls will not change the government but will be watched closely as indicators of what's to come at October's state election.
Labor holds a sizeable margin in Bundamba, while the LNP has held Currumbin since 2004.
Mr Hallam said strong community leadership was needed to steer Queensland through the coronavirus crisis.
"There are tough decisions ahead, decisions that need to be made to guide local communities in these challenging times,'' Mr Hallam said.
"Budgets need to be approved, emergency response mechanisms need to be led and local economic response plans activated and implemented to ensure any stimulus and support is targeted where it is most needed.
Today, people in Townsville queued to pre-poll in council elections; 77 such elections across Queensland this weekend. Hospitals across the state have been warned to expect ICUs to be overwhelmed by Easter with #COVID19au cases. We’re at the start of the spike. This is madness. pic.twitter.com/bZQmql1jEl— Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue) March 26, 2020
"These elections will ensure stability. They will ensure councils can continue to function at a time when their communities need them the most."
Queensland Elections: Counting has begun in council elections across the state, but we may not even get a result tonight. https://t.co/VZ3A1cpmr5 @MarlinaWhop #QLDelections #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/G1pwYz7IRR— 7NEWS Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) March 28, 2020
We can expect to see the first results coming in after 7pm.
Thank you Queensland! Polls are now closed and counting can begin. Preliminary results will be posted on the ECQ website as the counts come in, from around 7pm.— ECQ (@ECQInfo) March 28, 2020
Fifteen mayors and 31 councillors have already been elected unopposed with the remaining 532 positions to be decided after today's vote including two entirely new councils in Ipswich and Logan.
Other key facts and figures ahead of this election across 77 councils include:
• Ten mayors are stepping down including one who is instead running for a councillor position.
• Of the 367 sitting councillors running again today, 26 are running for mayor.
• Sixteen sitting councillors are challenging incumbent mayors.
• Four former mayors are attempting political comebacks today including former Diamantina Mayor Robbie Dare, who bowed out of the role in 2016, and former Maranoa Mayor Robert Loughnan and former Scenic Rim Mayor John Brent, who were both defeated at the 2016 local government elections. Former Logan mayor John Freeman, who was elected mayor in 2000 and 2004, is in the running to lead the new Logan City Council out of administration.
• The most-contested mayoralty is Brisbane's where nine candidates are vying to become Lord Mayor, followed by Logan, Hope Vale, Gold Coast and Cherbourg, with eight contenders each.
• Logan and Ipswich both has seven mayoral aspirants while five are contesting the Moreton Bay mayoralty.