Central Coast Council election
The Central Coast Council election is scheduled for 14 September 2024.
Central Coast Council currently has a State Government appointed Administrator. On 17 March 2022, the Minister for Local Government dismissed all Councillors, and this followed their suspension since 30 October 2020 and the outcomes of the Public Inquiry into the Council in 2021.
Constitutional Referendum on Councillor and Ward numbers
A Constitutional Referendum to determine the future number of Central Coast Councillors will be held at the same time as the local government election for Central Coast Council on 14 September 2024.
The Referendum had been previously postponed from 4 September 2021 due to the Public Inquiry about the Council.
The referendum will ask Central Coast voters to determine the following question: ‘Do you favour a reduction in the number of Central Coast Councillors from fifteen to nine? This will result in three Wards with each Ward electing three Councillors.’
Learn more about the Referendum question, including for and against cases for each scenario.
Proposed change to Councillor and Ward structure
Community members will be asked to vote on whether they feel the current structure of 15 Councillors should be reduced to nine Councillors.
The reduction of Councillor numbers would also require the reduction of Wards in the Central Coast Local Government from five to three, with each Ward to be represented by three Councillors.
The Central Coast Local Government area is currently divided into five wards (The Entrance, Wyong, Budgewoi, Gosford West and Gosford East) with 15 councillors. Each Ward is represented by three Councillors.
If the referendum is carried, a proposed Ward Boundary Plan will be placed on public exhibition for community feedback so that new Ward boundaries can be determined.
Councillor roles and responsibilities
Councillors are the governing body of a council, similar to how a Board of Directors is the governing body of a private corporation. Councillors elect the Mayor.
Councillors are expected to represent the views of the whole community (key stakeholders) while making decisions in their interests, demonstrate conduct that the community expects and deserves, and plan and oversee the running of a significant and complex business of Council.
One of the most important roles of a Councillor is to participate in policy decision-making on behalf of the community. Councillors ideally work as a team to make decisions and policies that guide the activities of the council. Policies can be defined as the principles and intent behind the programs that a council implements.
Currently, the Administrator of Central Coast Council, Rik Hart, constitutes the Council and must perform all the functions, powers and duties of the Council, which must be treated as if they were performed by the Council. The Administrator effectively acts as the Mayor and the Councillors. This means the Administrator conducts the Council Meetings and undertakes the administrative, civic and ceremonial functions of the governing body.
Voting in the referendum
Voting in the Constitutional Referendum is compulsory for all Central Coast residents aged 18 years or older. If you do not vote, you may receive a penalty notice from the NSW Electoral Commission. You can enrol to vote, update your enrolment details and check your enrolment status on the NSW Electoral Commission website.
In accordance with the Local Government Act 1993, the number of Councillors can only be changed through a Constitutional Referendum.
At the Ordinary Council Meeting on 11 May 2021, Council resolved to hold a Constitutional Referendum on 4 September 2021 for voters to determine whether they favour a reduction in the number of Central Coast Councillors from fifteen to nine.
However, due to the formal Public Inquiry into Central Coast Council, the Constitutional Referendum on Councillor and Ward numbers and the Central Coast Council election was postponed.
The Constitutional Referendum will be held at the same time as the local government election for Central Coast Council on 14 September 2024.
Council will engage a formal provider to conduct the Referendum. Details will be announced closer to the date.
In 2021, Council undertook community consultation asking community members to vote on their preferred option from three scenarios:
- Maintain the existing five Wards and 15 Councillors
- Reduce the number of wards to three Wards and nine Councillors
- Abolish Wards resulting in one region and nine Councillors
This provided an opportunity for the community to submit feedback on the proposed options and allowed Council to better understand community sentiment on how the numbers may be reduced in order to finalise the proposed referendum question.
613 community members voted in an online poll between 1 and 15 March 2021. When asked if they would like Councillors reduced from 15 to nine, 78 percent voted ‘yes’.
Those who selected ‘yes’ to a reduction in Councillors were then asked to let us know their preferences for Ward structure. 45 percent preferred reducing the number of Wards from five to three, while 55 percent voted to abolish the Wards and have nine Councillors represent the whole Central Coast.
The results of this poll were used to finalise the referendum question.
Any change determined by the Referendum cannot be introduced for at least 12 months from the date of the Referendum.
If the referendum is carried, section 210A of the Local Government Act 1993 applies.
This states that before altering a council’s Ward boundaries, the council must:
- consult the Electoral Commissioner and the Australian Statistician to ensure the proposed boundaries of its Wards correspond to the boundaries of appropriate districts and census districts
- prepare and publicly exhibit a plan detailing the proposed division or alteration (the Ward boundary plan).
If the referendum is carried, Central Coast Council will develop a proposed Ward Boundary Plan, making sure there is less than a 10 percent variation in voters between each Ward. This will be placed on public exhibition so that community members and stakeholders can submit feedback on the proposed plan.
All submissions made throughout the public exhibition period will be considered by Council when determining the new Ward structure.
For more information on electoral boundaries go to NSW Electoral Commission’s website.
Owners of rateable property anywhere in the state are entitled to vote in the relevant local government areas in Council elections and referendums, regardless of whether or not they live in those communities or maintain connections there outside their investments.
The deadline for property-owners to register their intention to vote in the Local Government Area (LGA) they do not live in will be announced closer to the date.
Eligible occupiers and rate-paying lessees are also allowed to vote in Central Coast Council’s Referendum via one vote per property through a nominated representative. The non-residential roll is maintained by individual councils and the relevant application forms can be found under Helpful Documents at the bottom of this page.
Once completed, the forms need to be emailed to Election.Enquiries@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au marked to the attention of the Chief Executive Officer C/O the Unit Manager Governance and Risk.
More information regarding the enrolment of non-residential electors can be found on the NSWEC fact sheet. If you have any further questions about the non-residential rolls, contact Council at Election.Enquiries@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au.