A BY-ELECTION by postal vote will held to replace the former Watson Ward councillor Paul Mercurio who resigned from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council following his November election as the state MP for Hastings.
Voting in the Saturday 18 March by-election is compulsory and candidates must nominate by midday on 14 February.
Voting papers will be mailed out by the Victorian Electoral Commission over three days from 28 February and must be received back by the VEC by Friday 17 March.
More than 14,000 voters are enrolled in Watson Ward, which includes parts of Baxter, Somerville, Tyabb and surrounds.
A countback of votes cast more than two years ago in Seawinds Ward to determine a replacement for Kerri McCafferty, who resigned on 20 December 2022.
The countback will decide the winner from votes cast for four candidates who failed to gain one of the three Seawinds Ward seats: former councillor Simon Brooks, Jared Tipping, George Conrad and Simon Galli (“Third councillor resigns from shire” The News online 20/12/22).
A link to the countback will be available on the VEC website from 9.30am on Monday 30 January at vec.vic.gov.au
The result will leave the shire one councillor short until after the Watson Ward by-election. Mercurio stood down in July to contest the 26 November election for Labor (“By-election follows Mercurio’s state win” The News 19/12/22).
His win saw the Liberal Party lose its grip on the seat held for 16 years by Neale Burgess (“Burgess calls time after 16 years” The News 16/11/21).
However, his departure was later mired in controversy when it was revealed that the Department of Parliamentary Services had launched an investigation into alleged misconduct which led to Burgess being banned from attending parliament for one month (“MP ‘banned’ from duties” The News 19/7/22). Liberal Party leaders also instructed him not to attend party events or be involved in party affairs until the investigations had been completed (“Guy ‘perplexed’ over time taken to air companies against MP” The News 19/7/22).
The results of the department’s investigation have yet to be released.
Acting Electoral Commissioner Dana Fleming said it was important for voters in Watson Ward to check their address details, including alternative postal addresses.
“If you’re an Australian citizen who resides within Watson Ward and you’ve recently turned 18 or moved, and you haven’t enrolled or updated your address, or if you’ve just closed your post office box with Australia Post, you can enroll or update your details online at vec.vic.gov.au/enrolment,” she said.
“Voting in local council elections is compulsory if you’re a state-enrolled voter, and we encourage council-enrolled voters to vote.”
Anyone who is not a state-enrolled voter for Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and have bought a rateable property, or occupy and pay rates for a property (including a business premise), or are a director or company secretary of a corporation that pays rates within Watson Ward can apply to the council to enroll by calling 5950 1206.
Voters who were enrolled in Watson Ward for the 2020 council election will be automatically enrolled, unless circumstances have changed. Council-enrolled voters can check their enrolment by calling the council on 5950 1206.
“Your local council makes important decisions about your community facilities, services and local business community, so it’s important to have your say by voting in this by-election,” Fleming said.