Statement: Act of grace payment for Kempsey, Singleton and Shellharbour Ward A election participants
In response to an application by the NSW Electoral Commissioner, the Supreme Court of NSW has decided that the local government councillor elections for Kempsey, Singleton and Shellharbour Ward A held on 4 December 2021 should be voided. The basis for that application was problems with the operation of the iVote system on election day.
The final orders made by the Court on 5 April 2022 will take effect on 3 May 2022 and new councillor elections must be held within three months of that later date. The new election date will be fixed by the Electoral Commissioner under the Local Government Act 1993. A number of considerations, such as avoiding overlap with the forthcoming federal election and various statutory obligations that must be exercised by all councils in June, will be taken into account in determining the date for new elections.
The Court has made the orders that were sought by the Electoral Commissioner in the public interest but since the voiding of the elections was not due to any fault of any defendant (being the three councils and the elected councillors) the Electoral Commissioner has also consented to pay the defendants’ legal costs. The three councils will also not be required to pay for the new elections.
In recognition of the financial impact on the candidates, groups and parties who participated in the affected elections, the NSW Electoral Commission has also requested and received delegated authority under section 5.7 of the Government Sector Finance Act 2018 to offer act of grace payments.
Participants in the affected elections who incurred lawful electoral expenditure in respect of nominated candidates will be invited to apply for a payment (on a reimbursement basis) up to the amount of the legislated cap for the particular contest.
The Electoral Commission will shortly contact each one of these candidates, groups and parties with further information about how to apply. This communication will include details about the supporting information that must be lodged with each claim, the terms and conditions of any payments, and the final date for applying.
General information will also be made available on the Electoral Commission’s website.