Council elections and voting

Overview

Local government is an elected system of government directly accountable to the local community. All the elected representatives, known as Councillors, work together to provide good governance for the benefit of their local community.

Past election results can be found at the NSW Electoral Commission.

When are the next elections?

The 2024 NSW Local Government Elections are scheduled to be held on Saturday 14 September 2024.

For all information including key dates please visit the NSW Electoral Commission website or call them on 1300 135 736.

Learn more about the 2024 local government elections

Shoalhaven City Council's election will be administered by the NSW Electoral Commission.

For further information about your current elected representatives and their role in Council, view the Mayor and Councillors page.

How does a local government election work?

Local government elections are held in NSW on the second Saturday in September every four years. At local government elections, voters in each local government area elect councillors to their local council.

Each local council must decide whether to engage the NSW Electoral Commissioner or a private election services provider to conduct their elections.

A local government area (LGA) can be either:

  • undivided, where the councillors are elected by all voters in that area, or
  • divided, where the council is divided into wards, from which an equal number of councillors are elected for each ward.

Shoalhaven City Council is a divided LGA. To find out which ward you are in, go to the my area page, search your address, and look below the map for details on which ward you are in, along with details on your representatives in Council.

View My Area

Mayoral elections

Mayors that are elected by voters in an area serve a four-year term. These mayors are elected in addition to the elected councillors. A person elected as mayor cannot also be elected as a councillor in the same area.

Other councils do not have mayoral elections. After the new councillors for an area are elected they will vote to elect one of the councillors as mayor for a two-year term. At the end of the two-year term the councillors elect a new mayor for the following two years

Councillor elections

Councillors are elected for a four year term, and the number of councillors elected varies from council to council.

Where councils have wards, like Shoalhaven City Council does, an equal number of councillors are elected for each ward.

Voters in a ward elect the councillors for that ward. Voters in an undivided council elect the councillors for the whole council area.

The election of a mayor by voters and the election of councillors are conducted at the same time, but are considered separate elections. For example, if a council has a total of 10 councillors to be elected, and the mayor is elected by the voters, the election for that council would be for nine councillors and one mayor.

More information

For more information on referendums, polls, by-elections, and how vacant positions are filled, go to the NSW Electoral Commission website:

Go to NSW Electoral Commission website

Do I need to vote?

It is compulsory to vote in an election or by-election if you are eligible to do so. You may be fined if you miss an election, so it's important to make sure your enrolment details are up to date.

If you would like SMS and email reminders for state and local elections relevant to your enrolled address, please check your enrolment. After checking your enrolment, you will be offered the option to sign up for updates.

Enrolment

Voting is compulsory in Australia and enables you to choose who represents you in federal, state and local governments.

You only need to enrol once with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to vote for all three levels of government.

You can enrol to vote if you:

  • are an Australian citizen, or an eligible British subject enrolled to vote in Australia on 25 January 1984
  • are 16 years of age or older (but you cannot vote until you are 18)
  • have lived at your current address for at least one month

For more information on how to enrol, go to the AEC website.

Enrol to vote

Check your enrolment

It's important to check which electorate you're enrolled in so that you know when and where you need to vote. You can check your enrolment details on the NSW Electoral Commission website.

Check my enrolment details

Update your details

If you need to update your details, you can do so through the Australian Electoral Commission website.

Please note: If you have moved house recently, you will be able to enrol in your new electorate after you have lived at your new address for at least one month.

Update my details

Residential and non-residential voting

When you enrol to vote, you will automatically be included on the residential role for that LGA, and you must vote in the local government elections for that area.

However, if you or your company:

  • owns rateable land in a different LGA
  • occupies or is a rate-paying lessee (a lease holder) of rateable land in a different LGA

You may be eligible to vote on the non-residential role for that area as well.

You can only vote once within a Council area regardless of which roll you are on, i.e. You can only be enrolled to vote in one ward within an LGA, even if you own multiple properties in more than one ward within that area, and the same rule applies within an undivided LGA.

You can enrol in any number of Council areas if you meet the eligibility criteria for the non-residential roll.

Applying for inclusion in the non-residential roll

Non-residential rolls are prepared and certified by the General Manager (also known as the CEO) of each council, and the eligibility of the voters listed is then confirmed by the NSW Electoral Commission.

However, you are responsible for checking that you are eligible for the non-residential roll when you apply. Eligibility criteria can differ from council to council, so it is recommended that you seek independent advice if you are unsure if you are eligible or not.

To apply for inclusion on the non-residential roll, complete one of the following forms:

Please note: Applications for inclusion on the non-residential roll close on 5 August 2024.

Becoming a Mayor or Councillor

If you are passionate about the Shoalhaven and making a difference in the community, you may want to consider becoming a councillor.

If you’re thinking about becoming a Councillor, save the date to attend a candidate briefing session. This will help you find out more about the roles and responsibilities of local government, Councillors and the Council.

  • Wednesday 12 June 2024, 4:00pm to 7:30pm, Ulladulla Civic Centre (in person session) Maximum 20 participants
  • Thursday 13 June 2024, 4:00pm to 7:30pm, Nowra Administrative Centre (in person session) Maximum 20 participants
  • Friday 14 June 2024, 4:00pm to 7:30pm (virtual session) Maximum 15 participants

Registration for these information sessions is essential, information on how to register will be provided shortly.

Frequently asked questions

Who can be a candidate?

To be an eligible candidate, you must be enrolled by 6:00pm on the day rolls close in the council area for which you are nominating.

You may be enrolled on either the:

  • residential roll
  • non-residential roll
  • roll of occupiers and rate-paying lessees for a council area

A candidate in a local government election must not be disqualified from holding civic office as a councillor or mayor. People disqualified from holding civic office include people who are:

  • currently serving a prison sentence
  • convicted of certain election-related or criminal offences
  • prohibited from managing companies
  • suspended on three or more occasions for misconduct as a councillor
  • current state members of parliament (if elected, they may only hold office as a councillor if they resign from the Parliament before the first council meeting)
  • serving judges, the returning officer for elections of the council and council employees

The reasons for disqualification are contained in the Local Government Act 1993, which is available on the NSW Legislation website (see sections 274, 275 and 276).

A person elected to civic office can be dismissed by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) if it finds that an elected person was disqualified from holding civic office.

It is an offence to act in a civic office while disqualified.

Please note: This information is not legal advice. It is important to note that the Electoral Commission cannot confirm whether you, or other prospective candidates, are eligible to nominate for an election or are potentially disqualified when you nominate.

Every prospective candidate should take steps to be informed of the legislative requirements. You should obtain independent legal advice if you are concerned about your eligibility to nominate for election.

How much time do I need to commit?

Being a Councillor is a four-year commitment.

You will also need to do a lot of reading of 'business papers' (meeting agendas) in preparation for the meetings. You can see examples of past meeting agendas on the agendas and minutes page.

The exact number of meetings you will be required to attend depends on the adopted meeting schedule (see next question) but each council must meet at least 10 times a year.

If you miss three consecutive council meetings without getting a prior leave of absence from the Council, your office (your position) will automatically become vacant.

How many meetings do I need to attend?

Shoalhaven City Council’s current meeting schedule is as follows:

  • Two (2) Ordinary Meetings (regular, scheduled meetings) per month  - currently scheduled to take place on Monday evenings at 5:30pm
  • Extra Ordinary Meetings (extra meetings for anything not covered by an Ordinary Meeting) - these are scheduled as needed
  • Any meetings of council committees that you are a member of