26 February 2024

On-the-ground effort delivers strong cohort of Cape council candidates

| Lyndon Keane
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ECQ First Nations Engagement Officer Quentin Barba says on-the-ground engagement with remote electors has delivered a strong result with nominations for council elections across Cape York and Torres Strait. Photo: Lyndon Keane.

While candidate numbers are down slightly from four years ago, electors across Cape York and Torres Strait will have plenty of options when they cast their votes in the Queensland local government elections next month.

Nominations for the 16 March, 2024 quadrennial council elections closed at 12pm on 13 February, with 223 candidates throwing their hat in the ring across the 14 local government areas within the Cape York Weekly readership area.

With generally strong numbers recorded across the northernmost part of the state, Weipa Town Authority (WTA) had the only uncontested race for the mayor/chair position, while Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (Division 3) and Torres Strait Island Regional Council (Divisions 2, 4, 11 and 13) struggled for nominations in some areas to lock in uncontested councillor appointments.

Two of the most exciting political showdowns appear to taking shape on opposite sides of Cape York, with Hopevale Aboriginal Shire Council and Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council receiving a combined 17 mayoral and 30 councillor nominations.

READ ALSO Aurukun, Lockhart River mayors confirm another tilt at top job

Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) First Nations Engagement Officer Quentin Barba said he was pleased with the number of Cape York residents, especially those in Indigenous council areas, standing up with a desire to represent their communities.

“It’s been a good turnout for candidates all throughout the Cape and Torres Strait area,” he said.

“One thing ECQ tried to do this year is to just up the engagement, and that’s why I was brought onboard as a First Nations Engagement Officer, to increase candidate nominations across the region, and then with voter turnout in the next phase of the process.

Five council areas across Cape York and Torres Strait are preparing for a changing of the guard in the top job, including Weipa, where Jaime Gane will replace outgoing Weipa Town Authority Chair Michael Rowland after being elected uncontested. Photo: Supplied.

ECQ had been criticised for its lack of communication regarding ensuring aspiring candidates and voters in communities devastated by Tropical Cyclone Jasper and the following flood event, such as Wujal Wujal, would not be disadvantaged in participating in the electoral process.

But while the candidate outcome for Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council – two mayoral and six councillor nominations – is being heralded as a success, it remains to be seen how taking the ballot box to displaced residents will be managed.

An ECQ spokesperson told Cape York Weekly it was “confirming the voting services that will be provided for Wujal Wujal electors to enable their participation in the current elections”, adding that it would “provide details to affected residents through various communication channels”.

Jaime Gane will replace long-serving WTA chair Michael Rowland in Weipa, but several other councils are preparing for a changing of the guard at the head of the table in chambers, with the incumbent mayors of Cook Shire, Douglas Shire, Mapoon and Pormpuraaw not seeking re-election.

Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Richard Tarpencha is aiming to remain on the council, but has nominated for one of the councillor vacancies.

READ ALSO Council elections to continue in displaced Cape communities


Cook Shire Council: 3 mayoral; 19 councillor

Weipa Town Authority: 1 chair; 6 member

Douglas Shire Council: 3 mayoral; 12 councillor

Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council: 2 mayoral; 6 councillor

Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council: 9 mayoral; 20 councillor

Lockart River Aboriginal Shire Council: 2 mayoral; 8 councillor

Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council: 5 mayoral; 13 councillor

Torres Strait Island Regional Council: 5 mayoral; 33 councillor

Torres Shire Council: 2 mayoral; 12 councillor

Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council: 4 mayoral; 7 councillor

Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council: 2 mayoral; 6 councillor

Aurukun Shire Council: 3 mayoral; 6 councillor

Pormpuraaw Aboriginal Shire Council: 4 mayor; 12 councillor

Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council: 8 mayoral; 10 councillor

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