More Women Councillors in Queensland


Women Councillors increase representation in the March 2020 Queensland local government elections
– by Graham Webb PSM

(Feature Image courtesy ABC News: Christopher Gillette)

It is now four months since the polls were declared and the ECQ published the results of Local Government Elections held on Saturday 28th March 2020. Individual councils will be well aware of the results that affected them and their neighbouring local governments, but what has been the overall effect across the State? One aspect is that there are now more women councillors in Queensland.

Elections were held in all seventy-seven local government areas for 2020. The majority of Local Governments (70%) conducted their elections on a undivided basis with 23 conducting their elections on a divisional basis. Sixteen councils held Full Postal Ballots and three held postal ballots for parts of their areas.

Two clear results indicate a continuing high turnover in elected members and an increasing representation of women in the ranks of both Mayors and Councillors.

Mayoral Elections

    Of the sitting Mayors 40 (52%), including 10 women, were returned. This compared with 36 including 6 women returned at the 2016 Elections. An increased number of these sitting Mayors (12 men and 3 women) did not face election and were returned unopposed compared with eight (7 males and 1 female) at the 2016 Elections.   

    More women councillors in Queensland

    Mayor Elvie Sandow

    New Mayors accounted for the 48% turnover, comprising 26 Men and 11 women. Although this was slightly down on the 53% of new Mayors, elected at the 2016 Elections the proportion of women increased slightly from 13% to 16%. Eight sitting Councillors threw their hats in the ring for the Mayoralty and were elected as Mayors. This compared with 15 challenging Councillors at the 2016 Local Government Elections. The turnover in Indigenous Council Mayors was 76% (9 men and 4 women).

    Women Mayoral candidates enjoyed increased electoral success at the 2020 Local Governments compared to 2016. The gender balance for Mayors across the 77 local governments in the state now shows men 73% and women 27%  – an increase of around 6% for women compared to the outcome of the 2016 Elections.

    In another milestone, Cherbourg Aboriginal Council elected its first female Mayor.

    This demonstrates that Women Mayoral candidates continue to gain increasing public support at Queensland Local Government Elections.

    Councillor Elections

      The Turnover of new Councillors represented 54% with new councillors comprising 154 men and 115 women, compared with a 50% turnover rate for the 2016 Elections. As with the Mayoral elections, women candidates enjoyed greater success, improving their numbers from 165 elected in 2016 to 189 in 2020.

      Of the 499 available councilor positions, the gender balance of elected members in councils for the current term has improved slightly with men 62% and women 38%. This is a 5% increase on the proportion of women councillors elected in 2016.

      Turnover trend to stay?

      Four years ago, when commenting on the 2016 Local Government Election results the Local Government Association announced that:

       “A new norm appears to have been established with an average councillor turnover rate (50%) resulting in a significant loss of “corporate knowledge” from the ranks of councillors.”

      This assessment was confirmed by both Mayoral and Councillor results at the 2020 elections with turnover of 48% in the Mayoral race and 54% for Councillors.

      Existing and newly elected women Mayors and Councillors are enjoying improved success across all six Local Government categories, evidenced by 21 women as Mayors compared with 16 in 2016, an increase of 30%. There are also 189 women in councillor roles compared with 165 following the 2016 elections. This is an increase of 15%.


      {NOTE: For readers with a statistical bent and an interest in the overall complexion of changes across the state arising from the March elections Graham has prepared a comprehensive report which can be downloaded HERE}

      Analysis of 2020 LG Elections Qld – G Webb PSM.



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