Referendum

Constitutional Referendum on Councillor and Ward numbers

A Constitutional Referendum to determine the future number of Central Coast Councillors was scheduled to be held on 4 September 2021. It has been postponed to a future date, yet to be determined.

There is no Council election taking place on the Central Coast in 2021, and the next elections for Central Coast Council are anticipated to be held late 2022.

Referendum question 

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.

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.

Frequently asked questions

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Can I vote if I am not a resident?

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 is 6 pm Monday, 26 July 2021.   

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 or Council’s own fact sheet. If you have any further questions about the non-residential rolls, contact Council at Election.Enquiries@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au

Why is Council undertaking a Constitutional Referendum for reduced Councillors?

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.

How are the new wards determined?

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% 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.  

If the referendum is carried, when will it come into effect?

Any change determined by the Referendum cannot be introduced for at least 12 months from the date of the Referendum.

The community already voted on a survey around the constitutional earlier this year. Why are we voting again?

Earlier this year, Council undertook community consultation asking community members to vote on their preferred option from three scenarios:

  1. Maintain the existing 5 wards and 15 Councillors
  2. Reduce the number of wards to 3 wards and 9 Councillors
  3. Abolish wards resulting in 1 region and 9 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 9, 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 5 to 3, while 55 percent voted to abolish the Wards and have 9 Councillors represent the whole Central Coast.

The results of this poll were used to finalise the referendum question.

Why aren’t the local Council elections running for the Central Coast this year?

On 26 April 2021, the NSW Government announced a Public Inquiry into Central Coast Council's financial situation. All Central Coast Councillors will remain suspended during the public inquiry process.

The decision to hold a public inquiry means that the local government election scheduled for the Central Coast in September will now need to be postponed until late 2022.

Who will conduct the referendum?

Council has engaged private provider Australian Election Company Pty Limited for the conduct the Referendum. 

Can I work on the referendum?

Council has engaged the Australian Election Company to conduct the Referendum.

The Australian Election Company is seeking to employ temporary staff to work on voting day in polling places and at the office before and after voting day. No prior experience is necessary.

If you are interested, please complete the application form and return it to centralcoast.admin@austelect.com. For any further details please contact the Central Coast Council Referendum Office via email at centralcoast.admin@austelect.com or on the phone 0435 390 106. 

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Last updated : Thu 21 Oct 2021