Coronavirus Australia: Council elections for more than five million people postponed to December

Municipal elections for five million NSW residents have been postponed to December, an ominous sign that the Covid outbreak in Sydney could drag on for months.

Local Government Secretary Shelley Hancock said the delay was a direct response to the worrying rise in Covid-19 cases in the city, with a further 141 on Sunday.

Ms Hancock said that after consultations with NSW Health and the NSW Electoral Commission, the decision had been made to postpone the poll until December 4.

More than five million NSW residents will have to wait until December to vote in municipal elections as the poll has been postponed in response to rising Covid-19 cases

Voters will be able to vote securely in December in person, by mail or online, with electronic voting called iVote, available for the first time this year

Voters will be able to vote securely in December in person, by mail or online, with electronic voting called iVote, available for the first time this year

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the current public health regulations affecting Sydney, we have made the difficult decision to postpone local government elections until later this year,” she said.

“We have taken this step to postpone the election to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities, voters, polling stations and candidates.”

The second year in a row that local elections have been postponed has also been affected by increasing pressure from Labor and mayors in Sydney.

The minister said voters will be able to vote securely in December in person, by mail or online with electronic voting, called iVote, which will be available for the first time this year.

Voters have 13 days to vote before Election Day, in an effort to reduce the number of people who gather on Election Day.

The delay means nominations that were supposed to start on Monday will open on October 25, and the term for nominated councilors is still set to expire in 2024.

About 5.1 million Sydneysiders are registered to vote this year, with more than 500 candidates expected to compete for a seat on 125 of the state’s 128 councilors.

“We have taken this step to postpone the election to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities, voters, polling stations and candidates,” Ms Hancock said of the delay

About 5.1 million Sydneysiders have registered to vote this year, with more than 500 candidates expected to compete for a seat on 125 of the state's 128 councilors

About 5.1 million Sydneysiders have registered to vote this year, with more than 500 candidates expected to compete for a seat on 125 of the state’s 128 councilors

The government’s earlier plan to proceed with the Sept. 4 polls has been called into question as the rapidly spreading Delta variant continues to wreak havoc over Sydney.

Meanwhile, a decorated Australian immunologist has warned that the thousands of anti-vaxxer protesters who took to the streets on Saturday could explode the number of cases and then extend the lockdown.

Frenzied crowds heard ‘freedom’ and slogans against vaccines as they flooded Sydney’s city center just moments after NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty declared the area a virus hotspot.

Fifty-seven rioters were taken away in handcuffs as protesters threw potted plants at mounted officers and crowds repeatedly yelled at police, “You serve us!”

Professor Peter Doherty warned that those most likely to die from the virus are unvaccinated.

Mr Doherty said that even if most of the population got the shot, the virus can still be passed on to those who haven’t.

Anti-lockdown protests in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday led to dozens of arrests of protesters who defied stay-at-home orders as they called for an end to Australia's strategy of lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19 to limit

Anti-lockdown protests in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday led to dozens of arrests of protesters who defied stay-at-home orders as they called for an end to Australia’s strategy of lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19 to limit

There are currently 139 people in hospitals in Sydney with Covid as a result of the latest outbreak, including 37 in intensive care, 17 of whom require ventilators.

Of the 37 people in intensive care, 36 have not been vaccinated, while the other has only received the first dose of AstraZeneca.

NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian also unleashed the protesters and said punishments would be handed out to those who break the law.

“I am disgusted by the illegal protesters in the city today whose selfish actions have endangered the safety of all of us,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The protesters have shown great contempt for their fellow citizens who are currently suffering.

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton took to Twitter to point out the irony of protesters claiming their cause was “freedom.”

“I am disgusted by the illegal protesters in the city today whose selfish actions have endangered the safety of all of us,” Ms Berejiklian said, referring to Saturday’s protesters

Police had no choice but to take a man into custody after a brutal crackdown at Melbourne's anti-lockdown rally

Police had no choice but to take a man into custody after a brutal crackdown at Melbourne’s anti-lockdown rally

‘I like freedom. Who doesn’t love freedom? I want freedom not to be among the more than 4 million official (and probably 10 million actual) Covid deaths worldwide,” he wrote.

“Let’s not pretend that ‘marching for freedom’ will actually deliver the precious freedom we all need and desire.”

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews called the idea of ​​protesting lockdown ‘ridiculous’.

“Protest against this virus by staying at home, following the rules and getting out of the lockdown,” he said.

The demonstrations, also seen in Brisbane, were in response to the Covid lockdowns imposed in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, with more than half of the country’s 25 million people being ordered to stay at home. remain due to an outbreak that started in eastern Sydney.

The protest came as the number of Covid-19 cases in NSW hit another record high since the first wave in 2020, with 163 new local cases reported in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, up from 136 the day before.

In a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the highly contagious Delta strain

In a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the highly contagious Delta strain “presents another major challenge to our country.”

The Delta variant of Covid - which originated in India in April - has been described as 'Covid-19 on steroids' and is twice as contagious as the original Wuhan strain

The Delta variant of Covid – which originated in India in April – has been described as ‘Covid-19 on steroids’ and is twice as contagious as the original Wuhan strain

Greater Sydney has been on lockdown for the past four weeks, with residents only allowed to leave the house with a reasonable excuse.

The demonstrations come less than a week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned of lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions that could last for months.

In a press conference in Canberra on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the highly contagious Delta strain “presents another major challenge to our country.”

“It’s tough and it’s going to be tough in the weeks ahead — and possibly months ahead — as we continue to grapple with this new strain of this virus and adapt our responses to fight it,” he told the nation.

“But we’re ready and we’re going to work on it.”

The lockdowns in South Australia and Victoria end next Wednesday and the Sydney lockdown is set to end on July 30 – but prime ministers have not ruled out extensions.

Greater Sydney has been on lockdown for the past four weeks, with residents only allowed to leave the house with a reasonable excuse

Greater Sydney has been on lockdown for the past four weeks, with residents only allowed to leave the house with a reasonable excuse

South Australia and Victoria lockdowns end next Wednesday and Sydney shutdown is set to end on July 30 - but prime ministers aren't ruling out extensions

South Australia and Victoria lockdowns end next Wednesday and Sydney shutdown is set to end on July 30 – but prime ministers aren’t ruling out extensions

The Delta variant of Covid – which originated in India in April – has been described as “Covid-19 on steroids” and is twice as contagious as the original Wuhan strain.

It accounts for more than 80 percent of cases in the US and 90 percent of cases in the UK – but can be effectively stopped with Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.

However, Australia has only fully vaccinated 14.52 percent of over 16s – the lowest rate in the OECD’s group of 38 rich countries – meaning lockdowns could be necessary for months as the rate rises.

There are currently 139 people in hospitals in Sydney with Covid as a result of the latest outbreak, including 37 in intensive care, 17 of whom require ventilators.

Of the 37 people in intensive care, 36 have not been vaccinated, while the other has only received the first dose of AstraZeneca.

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