The VEC continued to deliver efficient and compliant electoral events at the local government level in 2021–22. A general election for South Gippsland Shire Council was held in October 2021 and a further 20 electoral events throughout the year. All events were delivered as scheduled and within budget, with no result overturned.
After successfully supporting the Electoral Boundaries Commission with its state redivision (completed in October 2021), the VEC turned its attention to electoral representation and ward boundary reviews in a new capacity under the Local Government Act 2020.
South Gippsland Shire Council general election
Elections were contested for all wards in South Gippsland Shire Council, with 7 candidates each in Coastal-Promontory and Strzelecki wards, and 10 candidates in Tarwin Valley Ward.
By the close of voting, 21,683 ballot paper envelopes had been returned. The overall voter turnout was 81.51% – higher than the state-wide average at the 2020 local government elections of 81.47% (excluding Melbourne City Council), and higher than the turnout of 79.89% at the 2016 general election for South Gippsland Shire Council.
Local government by-elections and countbacks
During 2021–22, the VEC conducted 3 local government by-elections and 11 countbacks to fill extraordinary vacancies.
Other elections and polls
During 2021–22, the VEC conducted 6 fee-for-service elections and polls.
The Burke Rd Wine Pty Ltd Liquor Licensing Poll did not proceed, as the Victorian Liquor Control Reform Amendment Bill 2021 abolished ‘dry area’ polls, with effect on 16 December 2021, and the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation cancelled the request.
There were no State by-elections in 2021–22, but the VEC reviewed and refined its State By-election Event Plan in the first half of 2022 to include information on relevant stakeholders, communication strategies, resourcing and infrastructure requirements.
Local government electoral structure and ward boundary reviews
Under the Local Government Act 2020, electoral structure reviews are conducted by an Electoral Representation Advisory Panel (ERAP), appointed by the Minister for Local Government. The Electoral Commissioner (or delegate) is required to be on this panel and the VEC is required to provide technical and administrative support to an ERAP.
The Minister may also ask the VEC to conduct a ‘ward boundary review’. The VEC is responsible for advising the Minister when these reviews may be required and, in 2021–22, continued to monitor which councils may need a review before the next general election in 2024.
On 11 October 2022, the Minister established 2 ERAPs to complete electoral structure reviews of 39 councils before the 2024 general elections. The VEC is preparing to support the 2 ERAPs to undertake this program of electoral structure reviews.