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  • Writer's pictureLeonardo Puglisi

We looked at the elections in over 120 Western Australian councils - here's what we found

Updated: May 3

Voters in WA headed to the polls for periodic elections last Saturday.

The 2023 Western Australian local elections were held last Saturday (21 October) to elect the councils of 124 of the 137 local government areas (LGAs) in Western Australia. Many councils also held mayoral elections. It was the first time that optional preferential voting had been used for local elections, replacing first-past-the-post.

Local elections in WA are held periodically, meaning around half of all councillors were elected in 2021 and therefore are not up for election until 2025. Almost all councillors elected this year will next be up for election in 2027. Voting in all but eight LGAs was done via post.

Officially, WA local elections are non-partisan, with no involvement from political parties. However, like any levels of government, party members do run and are elected.

6 News has painstakingly counted the votes from every ward in every council to get a statewide total - here's what we found.

Independents still very, very dominant

Of the 495,440 formal votes, 433,562 were for independents (or at least, independent to the best of our ability) - that's 87.51 percent. That translates to 479 seats, excluding mayors and presidents.

A members bulletin from WA Labor - republished by Perth radio station 6PR - promoted 43 of its members running for council. Of those, 14 were elected with a total of 40,006 votes.

The Liberal Party does not endorse councillors officially, though 6 News found that a total of six strongly-aligned Liberals were elected, with 12,852 total votes.

The Greens did officially endorse just two candidates - Sophie Greer (Vincent) and Isabella Tripp (Perth). Greer was elected, giving the WA Greens their first ever endorsed local representative.

On the non-endorsed side, former WA Greens leader Alison Xamon was elected Vincent mayor, and Georgina Ker ran for Bayswater mayor. Additionally in Bayswater, ex-Greens candidate and current Greens member Sally Palmer was defeated.

"Some of our members chose to run for their local councils independently of the party, which is up to them and their consultation with their community," the WA Greens confirmed to 6 News.

Christians in, Cannabis out

As usual with local elections, we get to see minor parties achieve representation - sometimes their only elected member.

Going into the elections, two Legalise Cannabis members - Craig Buchanan and Rae Cottam, both in Rockingham/Safety Bay Ward - were City of Rockingham councillors.

Buchanan was re-elected, but Cottam was defeated.

In another Rockingham ward (Baldivis), Mike Crichton - president of the WA branch of the Australian Christians - was elected, giving that party their first-ever elected representatives.

Former MP and perennial candidate for office Anthony Fels, who is a member of the Western Australia Party, was unsuccessful in Cambridge. Meanwhile, Katy Mair - another member of the party - was elected as mayor in Melville.

Cam Tinley, founder of the No Mandatory Vaccination Party, was unsuccessful in South Perth, finishing with 36.30% of the vote in a two-man race.

Turnout unsurprisingly low

When compared with the 1,716,732 people on the electoral roll at the 2021 state election, only 28.85% of people voted in the non-compulsory local elections.

There were 47 instances of an uncontested race, while 17 vacancies were left unfilled.

South Australia is the only other state with non-compulsory local elections, after voting became mandatory in Tasmanian local elections beginning last year.



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