Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen and MP Jon Krause raise concerns over changes to local government elections

SENIOR political analyst Paul Williams has backed the state government move to introduce compulsory preferential voting at local government elections but it has been criticised by the LNP and councillors.

Scenic Rim mayor Greg Christensen and LNP MP Jon Krause have raised concerns about the move after the independent Colmar Brunton poll found that more than seven in 10 voters were happy with optional preferential voting.

This gives voters the option of voting for preferred candidates but not having to number every box.

Dr Williams said the compulsory preferential voting system was a fairer and more accurate representation of the people's will and the Colmar Brunton poll results were influenced by people's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude.

He said that in reality the changes would bring local elections in line with state and federal elections.

"Compulsory preferential voting may not be perfect but it has been proven to be more indicative of the will of the people because voters get to say who they would like to be next in line if their preferred candidate does not win," Dr Williams said.

The current voting system made it possible for a candidate to win a seat with just 11 per cent of the vote, leaving 89 per cent of voters unhappy with the result.

"The optional preferential voting system can distort the results and deny minor party voters a voice," Dr Williams said.

"So people who just vote 1 for their preferred minor party candidate might think they are sticking it up the system but in reality they are throwing their votes away."

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the government was consulting with mayors, councillors and stakeholders on a range of local government reform proposals.

These came about after the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra report, which was created in response to complaints about local government candidates for councils including Gold Coast, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Logan. 

“We want mayors, councillors and other stakeholders to have their say on reform and how to best achieve it," he said.

“The Belcarra Report emphasised the need for transparency and accountability as the cornerstone of local government.

“The government will consult widely with stakeholders before committing to any specific reform measures.”

Cr Christensen said the poll provided thought-provoking insights into what voters really thought of changes.

"I encourage everyone to read these survey results as we must consider its impacts on local government," he said. 

Mr Krause said the proposed changes went far beyond anything recommended by Operation Belcarra.

"I think Minister Hinchcliffe should stop using local government as some sort of testing ground for his weird and whacky ideas," he said.

"Scenic Rim voters don't care about the voting system, what they want is for council to provide better roads and better development outcomes.

"Scenic Rim ratepayers would not like being forced to vote for someone they don't believe deserves a vote, and that is what the proposed system would mean."

Follow the links at lgaq.asn.au to read the poll results.