Fresh election to be called for North Ward

Published on Friday, 1 July 2022 at 11:41:37 AM

  • October 2021 election results for North Ward declared invalid
  • Court of Disputed Returns delivers reasons for declaring election invalid
  • Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale to work with Western Australian Electoral Commission to set new election date within 21 days
  • Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale follows legislative pathway to obtain determination by Magistrate

The Court of Disputed Returns has declared that the result of the October 2021 Serpentine Jarrahdale Council election for its North Ward to be invalid.

The ruling means that from today (1 July) the two individuals sworn in as Councillors after the election to represent the North Ward, Mr Rob Coales and Mr Gary Singh, no longer hold their positions at the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale.

The Shire was one of two parties to request a legal ruling on the election by the Court of Disputed Returns, which has the jurisdiction to hear petitions disputing the validity of an election or return.

In accordance with the Local Government Act, the Shire must follow the correct legal pathway to determine the validity of any election where there are reasonable queries over the result.

The key steps in the process to the Court’s ruling were:

  • The Shire received information about potential ballot paper and voting irregularities during the election in late October 2021.
  • The Council wrote to the Minister for Local Government about its concerns regarding the election and received his advice that it should follow the pathway set out in legislation and consider making an invalidity complaint to the Court.
  • A Special Council Meeting was held in November 2021 to enable the Council to consider its options. At that meeting the Council unanimously resolved to submit a complaint to the Court.
  • The Shire appointed and briefed legal counsel to represent it in the Court, with petitions being made by all parties, including the Western Australian Electoral Commission, during hearings in May and June 2022.

Shire President Councillor Michelle Rich said it was important that the correct legislative and legal process had been followed by the Shire at all times and that a clear ruling had been received.

“We are pleased that this important matter has been decided. The Shire will now call a Special Council Meeting at which Council will consider the timing and format for the fresh election for the North Ward,” said Cr Rich.

“We will work with the Western Australian Electoral Commission to ensure the fresh election is held in a timely way so that ratepayers in the North Ward have all three of their democratically elected representatives sitting within Council as soon as possible.”

The Shire will inform the community of the fresh election date following the Special Council Meeting.

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