Concerns over electoral system overhaul

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Guild elections are heating up with every single district in NSW being contested

A new resolution has seen NSW divided up into 12 districts for the state’s current Pharmacy Guild branch committee elections, only allowing one winner in each district.

All 15 branch committee members have had to stand down. They are eligible for re-election; however the number of positions has also been reduced down to 12.

Meanwhile all other Guild branches are conducting elections at the same time. Nominations opened on 21 August, with ballots being posted today (7 October) by the Australian Electoral Commission. Postal ballots close at 5pm AEDT on Wednesday 4 November 2020.

Four states – Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and now NSW – have their elections based on a district system. Meanwhile the remaining states and territories conduct their vote across the entire state/territory. The number of positions available for each committee varies in each state or territory.

All 12 districts are being challenged in NSW for the upcoming three-year term, with each district being challenged by 2-3 people, a source told AJP.

However in other states with the same system, there aren’t going to be elections in most districts. For example, Victoria has 12 districts and three are contested—two in metropolitan Melbourne and one in regional Victoria. The state has had a district-style election process for quite some time, a source from the Guild Victorian branch confirmed.

Meanwhile Queensland has eight districts, and only one has been contested—the Sunshine Coast district. Western Australia is divided into 14 districts however none of these have been contested.

The contested districts in the newly divided NSW are: North Coast; Mid North Coast and Hunter; Central Coast; Blue Mountains, Central West and New England; West and Far West; South Coast; Illawarra and Southern Sydney; Sydney and Eastern Suburbs; Inner West; South West Sydney; Greater Western Sydney; and North Sydney and Northern Beaches.

As part of the new system, a member from one district may nominate for election in another district, provided that they nominate in only one district at any one time and are nominated by two financial members from that district. AJP can reveal that some current NSW branch committee members are standing for re-election but nominating in another district.

A source told AJP that there has been some negative feedback among the NSW membership regarding the new district-based system, and they had heard some members say they may refrain from voting altogether.

“Please don’t throw your ballot paper in the rubbish,” said the source, who AJP has chosen not to name. “Study who is in your area to make an informed decision, please take the time to look at the nominees in your district,” they said.

“There are important times in pharmacy. Every vote counts.”

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