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General / Thematic: Business and Human Rights: The Limits of the Law

Voting Rights and Australian Local Democracy


Ryan Goss

Section 256 of the Local Government Act 1993 (Tas) is a curious provision. It indicates that, at any given election for a municipal area in Tasmania, any given voter µhas no more than 2 votes’.[1] This provision is designed to facilitate a franchise based partly on property qualifications, and in which plural voting is explicitly allowed. It may seem extraordinary, in the 21st century, that such a franchise may be found in Australian law. But Tasmania is not an outlier. Indeed, in five of Australia’s six states, local government franchises include property qualifications, votes for corporations, and various forms of plural voting.

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(2017) 40(3) UNSWLJ 1008:

  1. This requirement applies both to elections in respect of one municipal area and to elections for a divided municipal area: see Local Government Act 1993 (Tas) ss 256(1)–(2).