The 2016 federal election polling day. Locals cast their vote at Raceview State School.
The 2016 federal election polling day. Locals cast their vote at Raceview State School. David Nielsen

Upcoming Ipswich City Council election cost skyrockets

NEXT year's Ipswich City Council election will cost more than double that of the one held four years prior.

Council have been advised by the Electoral Commission of Queensland that the cost estimate for the 2020 local government elections is $831,092.

In comparison, the cost for the 2016 election was $319,000, while the 2017 mayoral by-election cost $637,000 and the 2017 division 7 by-election cost $188,000.

Electoral Commissioner of Queensland Pat Vidgen said it was not fair to directly compare the costs of the two elections because of some important factors.

"For a start, the State Government heavily subsidised the 2016 election because a referendum was held at the same time, and naturally that subsidy won't apply in 2020," he said.

"Operational costs are being affected by the Independent Review of the 2016 council elections, which recommended a review of pay rates and more training for the thousands of temporary staff needed to run Queensland elections.

"Increased wage costs across that number of people makes a significant difference and there are more than 130,000 voters to take care of at Ipswich.

"ECQ doesn't make any money out of elections - they're an important democratic service not a business - and we always work with councils to keep their costs as low as possible.

"Sometimes councils can provide offices free of charge and we look at things like that, but voters and the security of their votes will always be prime considerations."

Earlier this week, Lockyer Valley Mayor Tanya Milligan slammed the ECQ for the sharp rise in cost and called on the authority to come up with a more "economic and practical formula".

"I truly struggle to understand how the Queensland Electoral Commission can justify charging us close to $400,000 for next year's election when the last full election in 2016 cost $191,584," she said.

"Especially when you take into account last year's by-election caused when then-councillor Jim McDonald ran and was elected as the state member was $113,316, I fail to see how all of a sudden the cost for the election process has doubled.

"The system ran far easier, was more efficient and was considerably cheaper when each council ran the elections themselves as was done prior to amalgamation."