Queensland voters are bing advised to take their own pens to this Saturday's council elections. Image by Glenn Hunt/AAP PHOTOS

Health

Qld elections given clean bill of health

2020-03-26 15:21:07

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and one of the country’s leading health experts have given the green light for Queensland’s council elections to proceed on Saturday. 

All 77 local government elections will go ahead amid tight restrictions on social gatherings because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Voters are being urged to bring their own pens and pencils.

Ms Palaszczuk said on Wednesday there was no need to postpone the election, and urged voters to keep their distance at the polling booth. 

“There is no socialising on election day,” she said.  

“You go and vote and I urge people to continue to vote early, as large proportions of the population continue to do so.”

The nation’s deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, also said the elections could go ahead. 

More than 1.3 million people, about one third of Queensland voters, have already cast their ballot or have opted to postal vote.

Large gatherings are a cause for concern and must be taken seriously according to Professor Nigel McMillan.

The director of Griffith University’s Infectious Diseases & Immunology Program told AAP he was concerned for the workers at polling stations because they would be most at risk.

“I would urge every one to bring their own pen and observe the distancing rules we have,” Prof McMillan said. 

“I am really hoping they have hand sanitiser stations at every polling booth.”

Prof McMillan said it was impossible to completely eliminate the potential spread of the virus, but believed the steps introduce to minimise the risk were positive.

The state’s electoral commission has extend early voting hours to 9pm on Wedneday, in a bid to limit the amount of people gathered at polling booths on Saturday.

It comes after the final debate for the Brisbane lord mayor election was cancelled.

Brisbane Mayoral candidates Adrian Schrinner and Patrick Condren were scheduled to have the debate hosted by the Queensland Media Club on Thursday.