COVID-19 delays NSW council polls again

NSW local council elections have been postponed another three months.
NSW local council elections have been postponed another three months.

Local government elections in NSW will again be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The polls for 125 of the state's councils were meant to take place on September 4 but have now been pushed back to December 4, 2021.

It's the second postponement for the elections, which were initially scheduled for September 2020 but canned in March that year as the first coronavirus wave took hold in Australia.

NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said she'd made the "difficult decision" after consulting with the NSW Electoral Commission and NSW Health.

"We have taken this step to postpone the election to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities, voters, polling staff and candidates," she said in a statement.

NSW is in the grips of a serious COVID-19 outbreak, with statewide restrictions and a lockdown of Greater Sydney that has so far lasted four weeks.

Electors will be able to cast their vote electronically for the first time, when the elections finally go ahead.

Pre-poll has also been extended to 13 days in an attempt to reduce congestion on the polling day.

Linda Scott, the Labor candidate vying to unseat Clover Moore as Sydney's Lord Mayor, wrote on Twitter that the elections had to be held by the end of the year.

"Public health and safety must always come first, but we do not want to reach a situation in which democracy delayed is democracy denied," she wrote.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge called for a back-up plan if the pandemic was still raging by December.

But he added that any resort to postal voting could only be a "one-off emergency measure".

Australian Associated Press