Vic council elections boast record numbers

Andi Yu
·1-min read

Victoria's local council elections have this year made history with the highest voter turnout and greater diversity among winning candidates.

The Victorian Electoral Commission on Friday said in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, the elections held on October 24 drew an average turnout rate of 81.4 per cent - up from 72.1 per cent in 2016 - and the highest in the state's history.

Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately said the elections were "a win for democracy in an otherwise challenging year" and attributed record turnout to younger voters.

"We engaged students to design a campaign to appeal to all voters but particularly young voters, so we'll be looking closely at the participation of those aged 18-29," he said.

Voting enrolments were also the highest ever at 4.29 million people and the highest number of candidates - 2187 Victorians - stood for election.

The Municipal Association of Victoria said the polls had ushered in greater gender diversity with 43.8 per cent of councillors female, up from 38 per cent.

There are now six councillors of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background and 28 openly LGBTQ+ candidates elected across 20 council areas - up from 11 in 2016.

About half of the winning candidates are newly-elected councillors.

The Greens have made historic electoral gains across the state, securing 34 local council positions, including a Greens-majority council in the inner-city area of Yarra.

Acting state Greens leader Ellen Sandell said success was owed to the party's plans for COVID-19 recovery focused on renewable energy, housing affordability, reviving shopping strips and jobs.