Gladstone councillors show their allegiances at early voting
EARLY voting booths in both electorates of Gladstone and Callide have been busy this week with thousands of constituents taking the opportunity to have their say in the Queensland election.
Current predictions are that 60 per-cent or more of enrolled voters will have already voted before the official election day on October 31.
Early voting, traditionally referred to as pre-poll voting, was introduced by the Electoral Commission of Queensland ECQ due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gladstone electorate returning officer Mark Larney said about 1500 votes per day have been lodged at the Toolooa Street booth since early voting began.
Mr Larney said about 1200 to 1300 of those votes are local voters and about 200 per day were absent votes.
“We’ve already taken over 7000 votes here,” Mr Larney said.
The booth at the Boyne Island Community Centre has seen about 300 votes per day lodged, Mr Larney said.
In the 2017 election there were 32,216 people enrolled to vote in the Gladstone electorate and 27,844 people voted according to the ECQ.
Mr Larney said he predicted the Toolooa Street booth would get about 15,000 votes lodged in ballot boxes.
The Labor Party has had prominent locals including Mayor Matt Burnett, Deputy Mayor Kahn Goodluck and Detective Sergeant Wayne Butcher all handing out how to vote information for Glenn Butcher.
Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett said he was proud to be joined by his son Josh, who recently turned 18 and will vote in his first election.
Cr Burnett, who was at the Toolooa Street booth on Saturday for his first time handing out how-to-vote advice in the 2020 election, said even if any of the other candidates were the sitting member, he would still be supporting Mr Butcher.
“I would be handing out how-to-vote cards for my very good friend Glenn Butcher,” Cr Burnett said.
The Observer asked whether Cr Burnett will throw his hat in the ring in the next Federal election as a Labor candidate, which recent media reports predict could be held in late 2021.
“I have been asked to run for Flynn by Anthony Albanese and another couple of senators, but my priority is with my job as mayor,” Cr Burnett said.
“There is a lot to concentrate on in the Gladstone region and that is my focus.”
Both One Nation candidate Kevin Jorgensen and LNP candidate Ron Harding expressed their opinion about local councillors political involvement on Facebook.
“Wow we have the mayor and deputy mayor handing out how to vote cards for Labor,” Mr Jorgensen posted this morning.
At the Toolooa street booth Mr Harding and Mr Jorgensen told the Observer they think councillors should not be politically aligned.
It is not illegal for Queensland councillors to be aligned to any political party, but they must disclose their interests according to Queensland government legislation.
On September 21 this year, Cr Burnett declared on his register of interest he is a member of the ‘Port Curtis and Hinterland Branch of the Australian Labor Party.’
Councillor Kahn Goodluck stated he is a member of the ‘Australian Labor Party’ on April 28 this year.
Booths are open Monday to Saturday from 9am until 6pm, except Tuesday and Thursday (9pm close) and Saturday (5pm close), at 19 Toolooa St, Gladstone and at the Boyne Island Community Centre for the seat of Gladstone until Friday, October 31.
For more information the election visit the Queensland Electoral Commission website.
Early voting locations:
Gladstone – Boyne Island Community Centre – Kroombit Room, Cnr Wyndham and Hayes Avenues Boyne Island
– Gladstone Office, 19 Toolooa Street
Callide – – Banana Shire Chambers, 62 Valentine Plains Rd Biloela
– Our Lady Help of Christians Church Hall, 74 Middle Street Chinchilla
– Eidsvold QGAP, 36 Moreton St Eidsvold
– Callide Office, 38 Capper St Gayndah
– Gin Gin RSL Hall, 37 Milden St Gin Gin
– Miles QGAP, 32 Constance Street Miles
– Monto QGAP, 53 Newton Street Monto
– Mundubbera QGAP, 51 Lyons Street Mundubbera
– Administration Office, Banana Shire Council, 18 Yaldwyn Street Taroom
– Wandoan QGAP, 11 Lawton Street Wandoan