Scenic Rim MP says amendments to local government laws are a "disgrace"

STAYING PUT: Cr Christensen says he's not going anywhere.

STAYING PUT: Cr Christensen says he's not going anywhere.

SCENIC Rim LNP MP Jon Krause says councils could end up being led by mayors who have been overwhelmingly rejected at the ballot box under new electoral laws passed on June 18.

The changes mean the council election runner-up can take the mayor's seat should it become vacant in the first 12 months.

Mr Krause said the Electoral Amendment Bill was an affront to democracy in local government across the state while Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said there was sound reasoning for the changes.

"These are disgraceful changes which show absolute contempt for voters - the people of Queensland and their right to choose their civic leaders," Mr Krause said.

Mr Hinchliffe fired back, saying legislative changes were never taken lightly.

"To denounce these as a disgrace not only rings hollow but shows a lack of understanding of the reasoning behind the decision," he said. "If the runner up in the original election can't, for whatever reason, step up to the role then a by-election can be called.

"By-elections are expensive exercises and it is entirely reasonable not to expect the constituents... to have to return to the polls within twelve months. In the case of the Scenic Rim, I met with Mayor Greg Christensen just last week and, apart from anything else, he was hale and hearty. I do believe it would take much more than a team of Mt Tamborine bullocks to tear him away from the job."

Mr Krause said the changes could spell disaster in regions where the election results were not as close as they were in the Scenic Rim.

"This could mean someone who received more than 70 per cent of residents' votes - as happened in Toowoomba - being replaced by someone who may have received less than 20 per cent and who does not reflect the voting intentions of residents at all."

"Locally, Logan City is an example of where these provisions will give an outcome that is disrespectful to voters. The mayor there received 36 per cent of the vote and the next best was 19 per cent.

"It is hard to see the democracy in a system which would result in the runner up, with only 19 per cent of the vote, becoming mayor."

"This so-called electoral reform has rightly been slammed by council leaders as undemocratic."

Under the previous legislation, mayoral vacancies were filled by by-elections.

The runner-up in the Scenic Rim local election was Tom Sharp, with almost 48 per cent of the votes compared to Cr Christensen's 52 per cent.

Mr Sharp said the government had put through inappropriate proposals, starting with a response to COVID-19 that interfered with people's democratic rights.

"I'm not saying I'm for or against (the amendement) but it comes on top of the government completely botching the 2020 local government elections," he said.

"Of the 29,879 people on the electoral roll, the mayor received 8,852 votes, which is 29.6 per cent.

"How have the people's democratic rights been exercised when the mayor is elected with less than 30 percent of the vote?"

Second runner up John Brent said he had been unaware of the new legislation until being contacted by the Beaudesert Times.

"Local government is the creature of state government so it should follow the same practice as the state, so when a role is vacated by someone resigning or, heaven forbid, dying, we should have a fresh election," he said.

"I'm disappointed not to have been told and I don't think the community was consulted on this. The community has been defrauded...this alters the whole dynamic of democratic elections."

Mr Krause said the bill had been "rammed through Parliament" with MPs given insufficient time to consider 229 late amendments

"These were provided to MPs at 9pm the night before being introduced," he said.

Meanwhile Greg Christensen said he had no plans to go anywhere and was "focused on getting on with building the strong future our region deserves".

"I am focused on meeting the high standards expected of all in local government under the continuing sequence of legislative reviews," he said.