Candidate requirements – 2020 local government elections

The information below was made available to candidates and potential candidates ahead of the 2020 local government elections. It is correct as at close of polls 6 pm 28 March.

On 20 January 2020, new laws came into effect making changes to local government elections that affect a range of participants particularly candidates, registered political parties, third-party campaigners and political donors.

The changes are outlined below along with other important points to remember when participating in an election. It is the responsibility of all electoral participants to be aware of their legal obligations and comply with them.

Please note, the laws apply to announced candidates, whether they officially nominate for election or not, and whether they are successfully elected or not.

Anyone who intends to contest an election should prepare by completing a number of tasks.

Note that the information below is also available in a range of ECQ handbooks, fact sheets and guides.

On 22 February 2020, the ECQ issued the Notice of Election for the 2020 local government elections. View the notice and other information about the elections.

All candidates must also meet the following mandatory eligibility requirements as set out in the Local Government Act 2009, the City of Brisbane Act 2010 and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

In order to be a councillor, a person must:

  • be an adult Australian citizen (including an Australian citizen who holds dual citizenship with another country)
  • reside in the local government area for which they are nominating (Note: if standing for election in an electoral division of a divided local government area, the candidate is not required to reside in that division but within the local government area)
  • be enrolled on the Queensland electoral roll
  • not be disqualified from being a councillor because of a conviction for the following types of offences:
    • a treason offence
    • an electoral offence
    • a bribery offence
    • an integrity offence, and
  • not subject to other circumstances including:
    • being an undischarged bankrupt
    • being on probation, in prison or on parole
    • being a member of a state or federal parliament or a councillor of a local government in another state.

For information about candidate eligibility, see also the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affair’s Check Your Eligibility tool.

For more information see Fact sheet 1 - Eligibility to become a councillor in PDF  PDF (0.62 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB)

The legislation governing eligibility to become a councillor can be found in the Local Government Act 2009, the City of Brisbane Act 2010 and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, available at www.legislation.qld.gov.au.

Candidate nominations for the 2020 local government elections must be officially lodged with the ECQ. Nominations must be received before midday on Tuesday 3 March 2020, along with the $250 nomination fee.

Nominations are lodged with the Returning Officer, who is the ECQ’s representative in each local government area. Contact details for Returning Officers and their office locations are available via the 2020 local government elections page.

Nominations for candidates (including candidates who are members of a group) must be lodged on the approved nomination forms, which can be accessed:

Nomination forms can be filled out online via the Candidate Portal but must be printed, signed and lodged with the Returning Officer responsible for the local government area being contested or the ECQ head office, in person or by post.

New requirements apply for candidates, political parties, third party campaigners and political donors for the 2020 local government elections. For example, a candidate intending to nominate must complete mandatory training and open a dedicated campaign bank account.

A candidate should also prepare to declare their personal interests on their nomination form. See Prepare to declare your personal interests below.

Candidates who are not endorsed by a registered political party must obtain endorsement from six electors who live within the local government area (for undivided councils) or six electors who live within the division or ward of the local government area being contested (for divided councils). This includes candidates who are contesting the election as a member of a group of candidates.

A candidate operating as a member of a group of candidates (i.e. not a political party) to contest the election as a team, must provide the ECQ with a record of the group’s membership which states the name of the group, the names of the candidates who are members of the group, and the dedicated bank account details of the group. Each member of the group must sign the record of membership of the group.

A candidate endorsed by a registered political party must be nominated by the Registered Officer of the political party. Party-endorsed candidates are required to sign a Consent and Declaration Form to consent to the nomination. The Consent and Declaration Form can be obtained from the Registered Officer of the political party or from the ECQ and should be provided to the party’s Registered Officer by each candidate in advance of nomination.

For more information, see Fact sheet 2 - Guide to nominating as a candidate for local government election in PDF PDF (0.74 MB) or Word DOCX (0.12 MB)

Anyone planning to contest the 2020 local government elections (including sitting councillors) should notify the ECQ via the Self Service Portal (SSP).

Once an announcement is made in the SSP, an account will also be established in the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS), so that candidates can start disclosing donations and campaign expenditure relevant to their disclosure period.

Note:  For candidates who have contested a local government election within the past five years, the disclosure period starts 30 days after their last election or by-election. For first-time candidates, the disclosure period starts on the day they first publicly announce or otherwise indicate their intention to be a candidate. The disclosure period for all candidates ends 30 days after the election.

In order to nominate, all candidates (including sitting councillors) must complete new mandatory training being conducted by the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs (DLGRMA).

Candidates must declare they have successfully completed the course when lodging their official nomination forms. Proof of completion may be required.

The training can be accessed via the 'So you want to be a councillor' page.

Anyone who intends to contest a local government election must open a dedicated campaign bank account for all donations and expenditure transactions.

The account details must be provided as part of the nomination process but are not made public.

Candidates who do not accept donations must still have a dedicated campaign account.

Only one dedicated campaign account is required for a registered group of candidates.

The details of a group’s bank account must be provided by each member when nominating for the election.

During the election disclosure period, candidates must:


  1. deposit all gifts and loans received directly into the dedicated campaign bank account

  2. pay all campaign-related expenses directly from the dedicated account by:

    • an electronic funds transfer (EFT)
    • a debit card, or
    • a cash withdrawal, provided the withdrawal is the lowest possible amount required for the transaction.

The new laws strictly prohibit the use of credit cards to pay for campaign expenses and the use of campaign funds to pay for a charge incurred on a credit card. Other bank accounts must not be used to filter or screen donations.

Failure to comply with banking requirements carries a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units (valued at $13,345 as at 1 July 2019).

For more information, see Fact sheet 3 - Campaign bank accounts and use of credit cards in PDF  PDF (0.55 MB) or Word  DOCX (0.11 MB)

Appropriate management of financial records promotes accountability and increases public confidence in election campaigning. It also helps electoral participants to meet their reporting obligations.

For donations of $500 or more (which includes aggregated or cumulative amounts of $500 or more), relevant details of the gift or loan must be recorded, including: the value, the date the gift or loan was made, the terms under which it was given, and the original source of the gift or loan (if the gift/loan is made by another entity or third party), as well as the donor’s name, address and the primary occupation or business. This information must be recorded and disclosed for all individuals, corporations, associations, trusts and industrial organisations that make donations of totaling $500 or more.

Examples of records which must be retained include:

  • all campaign-related correspondence
  • notes of phone calls, conversations, meetings, or other interactions
  • bank statements
  • invoices
  • receipt books
  • deposit books
  • cheque books, and
  • ledgers.

Complete and accurate records relating to donations and expenditure must be kept for five years after the conclusion of the local government election. A failure to do so carries a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units (valued at $2,669 as at 1 July 2019).  The ECQ may also issue other fines for non-compliance with record keeping requirements.

For more information, see Fact sheet 4 - Record keeping requirements in PDF PDF (0.38 MB) or Word  DOCX (0.11 MB)

For more information, see Fact sheet 10 – Transitional disclosure returns in PDF PDF (0.75 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB)

All candidates are required to disclose details of their personal/material interests and affiliations on their official nomination form. The following must be declared:

  • any membership of a registered political party or trade or professional organisation held by the candidate within 12 months prior to nomination
  • whether the candidate or a close associate* has a contractual arrangement with the council being contested by the candidate
  • whether the candidate or a close associate* is engaged in a contractual process with the council being contested by the candidate, and
  • whether the candidate or a close associate* has made any applications, or representations about particular applications, to the council being contested by the candidate.

*For the purpose of candidate nominations, a close associate is:

  • a spouse of the candidate, or
  • a partner in a partnership with the candidate, or
  • an entity for which the candidate is an executive officer or board member.

*Refer to the ECQ Glossary for definitions of contractual arrangements and processes with councils.

Queensland law bans political donations by property developers and industry bodies which have property developers as the majority of their members.

It is illegal to make or accept these donations or to ask someone to make a donation on behalf of a property developer or their close associate. Serious penalties apply for any breach of these laws.

Candidates, groups of candidates and political parties should be aware of the source of all donations to ensure they do not accept a gift or gift-in-kind from a prohibited donor.

Donors who are uncertain about their status may apply to the ECQ for a determination or seek their own legal advice.

For more information see the Prohibited Donors Scheme or contact pds@ecq.qld.gov.au.

Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, all participants involved in running or supporting a campaign for a local government election have obligations to disclose political donations (gifts or loans) and/or campaign expenditure. The regulations ensure there is transparency in political campaigning and helps to maintain the integrity of the election process.

Below is a summary of the obligations of each group in relation to electoral disclosure requirements: (1) candidate and groups of candidates; (2) political donors, (3) registered political parties (including associated entities), and (4) third party campaigners.

More information is available in:

Fact sheet 11 – Quick guide to electoral disclosure obligations in PDF PDF (0.17 MB) or Word  DOCX (0.12 MB)

Fact sheet 12 - Disclosure of political donations in PDF PDF (0.57 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB)

Fact sheet 13 - Disclosure of electoral expenditure in PDF PDF (0.63 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB)

Candidates who believe they may have contravened laws regarding the disclosure of donations and campaign expenditure should write to the ECQ soon as possible, providing all relevant records and information. The ECQ will take into account any voluntary disclosure when conducting its compliance and enforcement activities during and after the election.

Non-compliance with disclosure obligations carries a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units (valued at $13,345 as at 1 July 2019).  Failing to comply with these obligations is also an integrity offence, which may lead to disqualification from office.

Candidates must ensure that during an election period all election material printed, published, distributed or broadcast are authorised. Election material includes any advertisement, handbill, pamphlet, notice or social media post that is able to, or intended to, influence an elector about voting, or affect the result of the election. This applies to materials distributed by candidates, or a group of candidates, or any person in support of a candidate’s or group of candidates’ campaign.

Authorisation must state the name and address (other than a post office box) of the person who authorised the election material.

A person must not deliberately attempt to mislead electors when printing, publishing, distributing and broadcasting material during an election period, including advertising anything that is intended to, or likely to mislead an elector about the ways of voting at the election, or purports to be a representation of a ballot paper for use in an election if it is likely to induce an elector to cast an informal vote. A person must also not knowingly publish a false statement of fact about the personal character or conduct of a candidate, with the intent of affecting the election of that candidate.

There are regulations relating to the display of election signage (such as corflutes). Candidates should check these requirements prior to displaying any signage. For information about election signage next to state-controlled roads, contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads.  For information about signage next to local roads, private property and certain state-controlled roads in a local area, contact the local council.

For more information, see Fact sheet 6 – Electoral advertising and signage in PDF PDF (0.6 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB)

After the close of candidate nominations, candidates are entitled to receive a copy of the voters roll for the local government area or the division/ward where they are running for election. This information contains the names and address of electors in their local government area or division/ward, except for silent electors.

Once elected, a councillor can also request elector information about the local government area or division/ward for which they were elected. A councillor in a divided council can only request information for their division/ward, but not the entire local government area.

There are rules about the use of electoral roll information. For more information see Fact sheet 7 – Provision of electoral roll data to candidates in PDF PDF (0.61 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB)

Material that shows how a candidate, a group of candidates or a political party how they want voters to rank their preferences on the ballot paper when voting in an election is a how-to-vote (HTV) card. HTV cards must show the correct number of boxes to be numbered, be authorised and approved by the ECQ before they are distributed during an election period.

For specific information about the requirements of HTV cards and lodgement of HTV cards with the ECQ, see Fact sheet 8 – How-to-vote cards PDF (1.99 MB).

Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 (LGEA), there are a number of penalties that may apply to candidates and councillors who breach their disclosure obligations.

A candidate or councillor who commits an offence under the LGEA may be subject to fines or prosecution, depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Further, a sitting councillor will be automatically suspended if they are charged with an integrity offence or a serious integrity offence. Both sitting councillors and candidates will be disqualified from being a councillor for:

  • 4 years after being convicted of an integrity offence, or
  • 7 years after being convicted of a serious integrity offence.

*As of 1 July 2019, the value of one penalty unit is $133.45.

For more information see Fact sheet 9 – Offences and penalties for candidates and councillors in PDF PDF (0.71 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB)

From 20 January 2020, it is unlawful for groups of candidates to conduct group campaigning activities before they register with the ECQ.

Group campaigning activities may include: using a common platform to promote the election of the candidates (e.g. promoting the same political policies), using the same advertisements (e.g. pamphlets, billboards), using the same campaign slogans, brands or images, using the same how-to-vote cards, participating in the same fundraising activities or events, or sharing gifts or loans or the same resources for election campaigns (other than volunteers).

Candidates who wish to form a group can register their group with the ECQ at anytime, up until 12pm on the last day of nominations. Applications to register a group can be completed via the election management system (EMS).

Please note, candidates endorsed by a registered political party are not considered a group of candidates and may engage in group campaigning activities without registering with the ECQ.

Conducting group campaigning activities before registering the group with the ECQ could result in financial penalties of up to 100 penalty units (valued at $13,345 as at 1 July 2019).

For more information on groups of candidates in local government elections, see Fact sheet 5 – Groups of candidates in PDF PDF (0.19 MB) or Word  DOCX (0.12 MB)

On 20 January 2020, new disclosure laws came into effect requiring any person or entity that makes a donation or loan, or spends funds on a local government candidate or campaign to disclose details of the transaction using the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS). This includes donations and loans to, or funds spent on a group of candidates, registered political party, associated entity or a third party.

It is the responsibility of all political donors to be aware of their obligations and ensure they fully comply with electoral laws.

A donor who makes a donation (gift) totalling $500 or more must lodge a separate disclosure return for gifts received and electoral expenditure incurred. The $500 threshold is cumulative (aggregated), meaning it does not matter whether the gift or the electoral expenditure is made up of several small sums amounting to $500, or was one amount of $500.

If a donor makes a gift of $500 or more, either as a lump sum or cumulatively, the new laws require the donor to give a recipient a Notice of Details containing all the relevant details of the gift. The gift recipient is also required to give a donor a notice stating that they are required to give a disclosure return to the ECQ about gifts or loans that they receive for the election. Donors must lodge their disclosure returns with the ECQ within seven business days of reaching the $500 threshold. Once a donor reaches this threshold, every subsequent gift or expenditure item, regardless of the value, must be disclosed within seven business days of being made.

All donors must also lodge an election return within 15 weeks after the election, stating the total amount of funds spent on a campaign during the disclosure period.

The disclosure period for a donor or third party campaigner who has spent funds on local government candidate or campaign starts 30 days after the last quadrennial election and ends 30 days after the current election. For the 2020 local government elections, the disclosure period begins 18 April 2016 and ends on 29 April 2020.

For more information and examples of when a donor or third party may be required to give a disclosure, see Fact sheet 15 - Information for political donors PDF PDF (0.57 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB) and Fact sheet 16 – Information for third parties PDF PDF (0.37 MB) or Word DOCX (0.11 MB)

GLOSSARY OF DEFINITIONS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Agent

An agent refers to an agent for a group of local government candidates recorded in a register of group agents. The agent is the person responsible for ensuring the group’s obligations under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 are complied with.

Associated entity

An incorporated or unincorporated body, or the trustee of a trust that is controlled by one or more political parties or operates wholly or mainly for the benefit of one or more political parties.

Ballot draw

A Returning Officer conducts a public ballot draw after the close of nominations for an election to determine the listed order of candidates on the ballot paper.

Candidate

A person whose nomination as a candidate for an election has been certified by a returning officer and includes a person who:

  • is elected or appointed councillor at any time during the disclosure period, or
  • has announced or otherwise publicly indicated an intention to be a candidate in an election, or
  • has otherwise indicated their intention to be a candidate in the election, including, for example by accepting a gift made for the purpose of an election.

Candidate Portal

The ECQ’s online system for nominating as a candidate for local government election.

The Candidate Portal can be accessed via the ECQ website www.ecq.qld.gov.au after the Notice of Election has been published.

Close Associate

For the purposes of candidate nomination, a person is a close associate of a candidate if the person is:

  • a spouse of the candidate, or
  • a partner in a partnership with the candidate, or
  • an entity for which the candidate is an executive officer or board member.

For the definition of a close associate relating to a prohibited donor, refer to the definition of Prohibited Donor.

Compliance review

An audit of disclosure and funding matters by the ECQ following an election to monitor electoral participants compliance with their disclosure obligations under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011. Electoral participants may be contacted up to five years after an election to provide information relating to a disclosure matter.

Contractual arrangement

  • an arrangement for which the Local Government Act 2009 or the City of Brisbane Act 2010 prescribes contracting procedures that the local government must comply with in making the arrangement; or
  • an arrangement provided for under the Local Government Act 2009 or the City of Brisbane Act 2010 that allows a local government to enter into a contract without first inviting quotes or tenders.

A large-sized contractual arrangement means a contractual arrangement with a supplier that is expected to be worth, exclusive of GST, $200,000 or more in a financial year, or over the proposed term of the contractual arrangement.

A medium-sized contractual arrangement means a contractual arrangement with a supplier that is expected to be worth, exclusive of GST, $15,000 or more but less than $200,000 in a financial year, or over the proposed term of the contractual arrangement.

Questions regarding this definition should be directed to the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs.

Contractual process

A process provided for under the Local Government Act 2009 or the City of Brisbane Act 2010 that is preliminary to the making of a contractual arrangement with the local government.

Questions regarding this definition should be directed to the Department of Local Government, Racing, and Multicultural Affairs.

Dedicated account

A single account with a financial institution operated by a candidate, or group of candidates, to receive all gifts and loans and to pay all electoral expenditure related to a local government election campaign. Account details must be disclosed to the ECQ and campaign accounts may be subject to compliance reviews up to five years after the election.

The use of credit card to pay for campaign expenses and the use of campaign funds to pay for a charge incurred on a credit card is prohibited.

Disclosure

A disclosure is the reporting of information to the ECQ by related to political donations and/or electoral expenditure.

Disclosure periods

A disclosure period for an election depends upon an individual or entity’s circumstances:

Sitting councillors: If the candidate was a candidate in an election held within five years before the polling day for the election, their disclosure period begins 30 days after the polling day for the most recent election and ends 30 days after the polling day for the election.

Announced candidates: If a person who announces their intention to nominate for an election - but has not contested an election within the last five years - their disclosure period begins on the day that the candidate publicly announces their intention to be a candidate, or otherwise indicates their intention to be a candidate (e.g. accepting a gift), and ends 30 days after the polling day for the election.

Groups of candidates: The disclosure period for a group of candidates begins 30 days after the polling day for the last quadrennial election and ends 30 days after the polling day for the election.

Registered political parties:The disclosure period begins 30 days after the polling day for the most recent election and ends 30 days after the polling day for the election.

EDS

Refer to the definition of Electronic Disclosure System.

Election day

The polling day for an election. Polling places open at 8am and close at 6pm on election day. Counting of the votes commences at 6pm.

Election material

Anything able to, or intended to, influence an elector about voting at an election or affect the result of an election. This includes all election material printed, published, distributed or broadcast, for example any advertisement, handbill, pamphlet, notice or social media post.

Election period

An election period for an election starts upon public notice of the election and ends at the close of polls on election day.

Election signage

Freestanding advertising devices that identify candidates or promote a political party. There are regulations relating to the location, placement and quantity of election signage next to state-controlled and local government-controlled roads as well as the timeframes in which they can be displayed.

Election summary disclosure return

A summary disclosure return is a submission which contains details of all gifts, loans or expenditure, completed via the Electronic Disclosure System within 15 weeks after election day.

Electoral advertising

Electoral or political advertising is any advertisement which advocates a vote for or against a candidate, group of candidates, or a registered political party. Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, candidates, groups of candidates and campaigns must adhere to the provisions relating to political advertising during an election period. The election period for a local government election commences when the Notice of Election is published and ends when polling closes on the day of the election.

These provisions include: requirements for authorisation to be printed clearly on electoral materials, regulations relating to where signage can be placed in support of a local government campaign, procedures for the acceptance of how-to-vote cards by the ECQ and offences such as misleading electors or publishing false statements about the personal character or conduct of a candidate, with the intent to influence the outcome of an election. For more information, refer to Electoral Advertising and Signage.

Electoral expenditure

Electoral expenditure is expenses incurred, including a gift-in-kind, to support an election campaign, regardless of when the expense is incurred. Electoral expenses are costs helping to advocate for or against a candidate, group or candidates or political party and can include but in this context, not limited to:

  • the cost of producing and distributing political advertisements, whether broadcasted, published in physical form or electronically, displayed at a theatre or other place of entertainment (e.g. television advertising, social media advertising, or
  • the cost of producing and distributing any advertisement or election material requiring the name and address of the person authorising the material (e.g. flyers, pamphlets handbills, how-to-vote cards), or
  • carrying out an opinion poll or research to promote or influence voting (e.g. phone polling, data analysis, focus groups).

Electoral expenditure is incurred at the time when the goods or services are provided. For example, expenditure on advertising is incurred when the advertisement is broadcast, published or posted online and expenditure on election material is incurred when the material is distributed.

Note: ‘Electoral expenditure’ differs from ‘Political expenditure’. Refer to the definition of Political expenditure for details.

Electronic Disclosure System (EDS)  

The online portal through which electoral participants with disclosure obligations should lodge their real-time, periodic and post-election summary disclosure returns. The EDS can be accessed via the ECQ website or at https://disclosures.ecq.qld.gov.au/.

Endorsed candidate

A candidate for a local government election who is endorsed by a registered political party.

Expenditure return

Candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties and associated entities who incur electoral expenditure of $500 or more must provide a return to the ECQ. The return must be in the approved form and given to the ECQ by the disclosure due date for the return, and state:

  • the name and business address of the person who supplied the goods or service to which the expenditure relates
  • a description of the goods or service
  • the amount of the electoral expenditure
  • when the expenditure was incurred, and
  • the purpose for incurring the expenditure.

A summary expenditure return states the total amount of electoral expenditure the electoral participant incurred during the disclosure period for the election together with a copy of a bank statement with their summary return.

Fundraising contribution

A fundraising contribution is an amount paid by a person as a contribution, entry fee or other payment to entitle the person or another person to participate in, or otherwise obtain a benefit from a fundraising venture or function.

A fundraising contribution includes:

  • an amount paid for a raffle ticket, and
  • an amount paid for an item at a fundraising auction.

Gift

A gift, also known as a donation, is made to or for the benefit of a political party, a councillor, a candidate or group of candidates in an election; or made to another person or entity in order to enable them to support a political party, a councillor, a candidate or group of candidates.

A gift is any transfer of property from one entity to another with no or inadequate consideration of its reasonable value. A gift can be:

  • monetary or non-monetary
  • services at no or below cost
  • uncharged interest on a loan, or
  • any part of a fundraising contribution that exceeds $200.

Where the gift is property, the gift is to be valued at the current market value.

Where the gift is a provision of a service, the value of the gift is the amount that would be reasonably charged for the service if it was provided on a commercial basis.

Where the gift is uncharged interest on a loan, the value of the gift is the amount of interest that would have been charged at the prevailing interest rate for a loan of that kind.

A fundraising contribution is the amount paid as a contribution, entry fee or other payment, which entitles someone to participate in or benefit from a fundraising venture or function.

A gift does not include:

  • volunteer labour, such as friends and family members helping a candidate in a voluntary capacity (for example, handing out flyers on election day)
  • the incidental use of a volunteer’s vehicle or equipment
  • a fundraising contribution of $200 or less
  • membership fees paid to a political party, or
  • property transferred under a will.

A gift does not include the transfer of property, the provision of a service or uncharged interest on a loan made in a private capacity for the candidate’s personal use if the candidate does not intend to use it for their election campaign. However, any part of this property, service or loan that the candidate uses in support of their electoral campaign, will be considered a gift and must be disclosed.

Gift-in-kind

A gift of any good or service other than money.

Gift threshold amount

The amount at which gifts must be disclosed in real-time, that is $500. This may be one gift or loan (other than from a financial institution) or the sum of multiple gifts or loans.

Group campaign activity

A group campaign activity is any of the following activities carried out by two or more candidates in an intentionally coordinated way:

  • using a common platform to promote the election of the candidate, including for example, the same political policies
  • candidates using the same advertisements, including: pamphlets, billboards and any other media; the same campaign slogans, the same brands or images, the same how-to-vote cards; and other election material that promotes the election of the candidates
  • participating in the same fundraising activities or events
  • sharing the same resources for election campaigns, including human resources (other than volunteers) between the candidates, or
  • giving or sharing gifts or loans between the candidates.

Only candidates who are members of a group of candidates and candidates who are endorsed by the same political party may engage in group campaign activities.

Group of candidates

A registered group of two or more candidates who plan to contest an election in the same local government area and engage in group campaigning activities in an intentional and coordinated way. A political party cannot be considered a group.

How-to-vote card

A how-to-vote card is a card, handbill or pamphlet that:

  • contains a representation or intended representation of a ballot paper, or part of a ballot paper
  • lists the names of some or all candidates with numbers indicating an order of voting preference, or
  • directs or encourages the casting of preference votes, other than a first-preference vote.

Printed material that does not meet one of these criteria may be election material, but not a how-to-vote card. It is important to note the differences, as the rules for how-to-vote cards differ from other election material. How-to-vote cards distributed during an election period must carry an authorisation and how-to-vote cards authorised for a candidate, group or political party must have been accepted for distribution by the ECQ.

Nomination

The process of formally applying to become a candidate for local government election. The nomination period is a period of approximately two weeks which takes places approximately one month prior to election day. Instructions on how to nominate are published in the Notice of Election.

Notice of Election

A Notice of Election is issued to formally notify the community that a local government election will occur on a specific date. It is published on the ECQ website and contains details such as of the nomination process, the timeline for the election and contact details for Returning Officers in each local government area.

Penalty unit

The fine amount for an offence under Queensland State legislation and the laws of local governments is identified as a penalty unit. Queensland's Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2015 defines the dollar value of a penalty unit and is subject to a yearly review by the State Treasurer. The penalty unit value in Queensland is $133.45 (current from 1 July 2019).

Periodic disclosure

The disclosure summary that registered political parties are required to lodge with the ECQ on a six-monthly basis. This is lodged via the Electronic Disclosure System.

Political advertisement

An advertisement that advocates a vote for or against a candidate, group of candidates or registered political party. Refer to the definition of Electoral advertising.

Political donation

Refer to the definition of Gift.

Political expenditure

Political expenditure is:

  • electoral expenditure*, or
  • a gift made to or for the benefit of:

- a political party

- a candidate for an election, or

- a group of candidates for an election, a member of the group or a person acting on behalf of the group, or

  • a gift made to another person on the understanding that the person, or another person, uses the gift (directly or indirectly) to incur expenditure in support of an election campaign.

Note: ‘Political expenditure’ differs from ‘Electoral expenditure’. Refer to the definition of Electoral expenditure for details.

Political party

Refer to the definition of Registered Political Party.

Prohibited donor

A prohibited donor is:

  • a property developer or their close associate, or
  • an industry representative organisation, a majority of whose members are property developers.

A property developer is a corporation engaged in a business that regularly involves the making of relevant planning applications by or on behalf of the corporation:

  • in connection with the residential or commercial development of land, and
  • with the ultimate purpose of the sale or lease of the land for profit.

A close associate of a corporation means:

  • a related body corporate of the property developer
  • a director or other officer of the property developer
  • a person with more than 20% of the voting power of the property developer or a related body corporate
  • a spouse of a person described above
  • if the corporation or a related body corporation of the corporation is a stapled entity in relation to a stapled security – the other stapled entity in relation to the stapled security,
  • if the corporation is a trustee, manager or responsible entity in relation to a unit trust - a person who holds more than 20% of the units in the trust, or
  • if the corporation is a trustee, manager, or responsible entity in relation to a discretionary trust - a beneficiary of the trust.

Real-time disclosure

Real-time disclosure is the legislated requirement for the disclosure of gifts, loans and expenditure to the ECQ within seven business days of the gift or loan being received or the expenditure incurred. In the last week of an election period, the ‘real-time’ requirement is reduced to within 24 hours of the gift or loan being received or the expenditure being incurred.

Registered Political Party

A political party that is registered in Queensland under the Electoral Act 1992 and appears on the ECQ’s Register of Political Parties.

Relevant details of a gift of loan                                                            

‘Relevant details’ of the gift or loan (other than from a financial institution) refer to the detailed supporting information about a gift or loan that should be included in a disclosure return. The relevant details that are required to be disclosed depend on the type of entity that made the gift or loan. For all types of entities, the following relevant details are required to be disclosed:

  • the value of the gift or loan
  • the date on which the gift or loan was made
  • for a loan, the terms of the loan and if the person making the gift has an interest in a local government matter that is greater than that of other persons in the local government area and the nature of the person’s interest, and
  • if the gift or loan is made by an entity that is not the source of the gift or loan, the relevant details for the entity that is the source of the gift or loan.

The following relevant details are also required to be disclosed, depending on the type of entity that made the gift or loan:

Type of entity that made the gift or loan

Relevant details

Individual

- the individual’s name,

- the individual’s residential or business address,

- the individual’s occupation, and

- if the individual is employed, carries on a business, or is otherwise engaged in an industry - the industry.

Corporation

- the corporation’s name,

- the names and residential or business addresses of the directors or members of the executive committee of the corporation,

- if the corporation has a holding company – the names and residential or business addresses of the directors or members of the executive committee of the holding company, and

- a description of the type of business the corporation is engaged in.

Unincorporated association

(excluding registered industrial organisations)

- the association’s name, and

- the names and residential or business addresses of the members of the executive committee of the association.

Registered industrial organisation

- the organisation’s name, and

- the organisation’s address.

Trust fund or foundation

- the names and residential or business addresses of the trustees of the fund or other persons responsible for the funds of the foundation,

- the name or other description of the trust fund or foundation,

- if the gift is given, or loan is made, out of a trust account of a lawyer or accountant under the instructions of a person who is in substance the giver of the gift or lender – the name and residential or business address of the person who gave the instruction.

If none of the above

-   the name and residential or business address of the person.

A candidate, the agent for a group of candidates or a third party that incurs political expenditure for the election may be required to disclose the relevant details of a gift or loan received in support of a local government election campaign. Candidates and third parties must ensure they collect the information at the time of receiving the gift. Registered political parties must continue to adhere to their obligations under the Electoral Act 1992.

The relevant details must be disclosed in a return if, during their disclosure period for a local government election, an election participant receives:

  • one or more gifts from a particular entity, the sum of which is equal to, or exceeds, $500, or
  • one or more loans from a particular entity (other than a financial institution), the sum of which is equal to, or exceeds, $500.

Once the $500 threshold has been reached, the election participant must disclose the relevant details for each additional gift or loan received from the same entity during the reporting period, regardless of the amount or value of the gift or loan.

Source of a gift or loan

A candidate, group of candidates or third party is required to disclose the name and address of the source of a gift or loan when lodging the disclosure return in the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System.

If a third party donor receives money from another entity that they then give to a political entity, the name and address of the original source of the money must be disclosed.

An entity is the source of a gift or loan (ultimate gift or loan) made to another entity (the ultimate recipient) if:

  • the entity makes a gift or loan (the first gift or loan) to another entity (the first recipient)
  • the entity’s main purpose in making the first gift or loan is to enable (directly or indirectly) the first recipient, or another person, to make the ultimate gift or loan to the ultimate recipient
  • the first recipient, or another person, makes the ultimate gift or loan to the ultimate recipient, and
  • the first gift or loan enabled (directly or indirectly) the first recipient, or another person, to make the ultimate gift or loan.

Summary disclosure

Refer to the definition of Election Summary Return.

Third party

A third party is an individual or an entity who is a political donor or campaigner and makes a gift to an electoral participant or conducts campaigning activities, but is not:

  • a political party, an associated entity or a candidate
  • a person who is a member of a committee for the election of a candidate endorsed for by a registered political party, if the committee is part of the political party, or
  • a person who is a member of a committee for the election of a candidate in the election or members of a group of candidates for the election.

Transitional disclosure returns

New disclosure obligations commenced on 20 January 2020 under the amendments to the Local Government Electoral Act 2011. As part of this transition, all announced candidates and sitting councillors must lodge two transitional disclosure returns within 14 days of the new laws commencing. The due date will be 3 February 2020.

This applies to all announced candidates for the 2020 local government quadrennial election, whether they officially nominate for the election or not; and all sitting councillors, whether they plan to contest the 2020 local government election or not. These returns must include:

  • all gifts and loans received between the start of their disclosure period and 19 January 2020, and
  • all expenditure incurred in support of their campaign between 1 May 2019 and 19 January 2020.

More information

If you need more information relating to Funding, Disclosure and Compliance, please contact ECQ on 1300 881 665 or by emailing fad@ecq.qld.gov.au.