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Inner West Council Administrator Richard Pearson was heckled at his council’s first public meeting. Photo: Christopher Pearce Cartoonist Nicola Minus who spat Richard Pearson, the administrator of the Inner West Council Photo: Channel Seven
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Paul Toole says administrators will be in charge of councils until next September. Photo: Daniel Munoz

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The administrator appointed to run an enlarged Inner West Council says he would have no problem with council elections taking place early next year instead of September.

Local Government Minister Paul Toole has declared administrators are to remain in charge of newly formed councils until September 2017, when elections will take place.

The length of time until elections are to run for new councils has received criticism, including from adjunct professor Graham Sansom from the University of Technology, Sydney, for undermining local democracy.

Mr Toole has said that the Electoral Commission told the government it would be impossible to hold elections for new councils in September 2016.

“The Commission also indicated that it was their preference that elections for new councils be held in September 2017 to allow them to be ready,” Mr Toole said in a statement.

“Further, the time allows administrators to successfully integrate the council organisations in time for the election of councillors to new councils.”

Mr Richard Pearson, whose first public meeting as an administrator was closed by protests, said it would cause him “no great concern” if elections were held in March 2017, not September.

“I think a lot of the work that needed to be done in relation to getting this council up and running can be done over the next seven or eight months, but ultimately that’s not my decision, that’s a decision of government,” Mr Pearson told community radio station, Radio Skid Row.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission has said it “conducts elections as required by the government within certain logistical and administrative constraints”.

“The boundary review process is ongoing,” the spokesman said. “We will not speculate how long this process might take.”

The government has merged 42 councils into 19 new ones, though eight merger proposals remain pending. The City of Botany Bay said last week it would appeal against a court decision, which has so far prevented its merger with Rockdale City Council.

 

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