Candidate requirements – 2020 local government elections

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 below.

This fact sheet relates to candidates and groups of candidates contesting local government elections.

What skills are required by councillors?

Local governments need councillors from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience. While formal qualifications are not needed for the role, to be an effective councillor a person needs to have:

  • an active interest in community issues
  • good communication skills and the ability to engage with a range of people
  • good problem solving and negotiation skills
  • motivation to work with others to achieve results
  • leadership qualities
  • business and financial management skills, and
  • willingness to do the right thing if faced with a conflict of interest between the public interest and a personal interest.

What are the eligibility requirements to become a councillor?

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.

To check if you are eligible to become a councillor, visit the Department of Local Government, Racing, and Multicultural Affairs’ Check Your Eligibility tool.

Note: The ECQ is not able to provide advice on a person’s eligibility to nominate as a candidate. If there is uncertainty about a person’s eligibility due to specific personal circumstances, it is recommended that independent legal advice is sought.

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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 nominate 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 below.

This fact sheet relates to candidates and groups of candidates contesting local government elections.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) manages the candidate nomination process for local government elections.

In Queensland, you can nominate as:

  • an individual
  • a member of a group of candidates
  • an endorsed candidate of a registered political party.

Note: You can choose to stand for election as a councillor or as mayor - but not for both. Dual candidacy is not permitted.

When to lodge a nomination  

The nomination period commences once the Notice of Election is issued by the ECQ. This will be published on the ECQ’s website.

Nominations must be lodged before midday on the last day of the nomination period.

How to lodge a nomination

Candidate nominations will be open until 12pm (midday) on Tuesday, 3 March 2020.

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.

The completed form must be received by the Returning Officer or the ECQ before midday on the day nominations close, along with the $250 nomination fee.

If a candidate is endorsed by a political party registered in Queensland, the Registered Officer of the political party is responsible for lodging the candidate’s nomination form directly with the ECQ head office in Brisbane. In this case, the candidate must ensure that all required information is provided to the party’s Registered Officer in advance of the nomination process.

STEPS TO NOMINATE AS A CANDIDATE

There are several steps that must be completed prior to nominating:

Mandatory councillor training

All candidates are required to complete a free online training course with the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs (DLGRMA) within the six-month period prior to nominating for a quadrennial election or by-election.

This applies to ALL candidates - whether they have previously contested an election or have never contested an election.

Candidates should refer to So you want to be a councillor’ on the DLGRMA website to access the training.

Dedicated campaign bank account

Candidates must establish a dedicated bank account to manage their campaign finances and provide the account details to the ECQ on their nomination form.

Candidates who are members of a group of candidates are required to have one dedicated campaign bank account for the group. Account details for the group’s dedicated account must be provided on each candidate’s nomination form.

Under Queensland’s electoral laws, all campaign donations received - and electoral expenditure incurred - must be transacted via this account and reported to the ECQ in line with disclosure obligations.

Declaration of personal interests

Details of a candidate’s personal and material interests and affiliations must be declared on the nomination form.

Candidates should prepare the following information in advance of nominating:

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

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

For the purposes of candidate nominations, 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.

Endorsement  

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.

Nomination deposit

A deposit of $250 must be lodged with the Returning Officer by each candidate at the time of nomination. Deposits can be paid by cash, electronic funds transfer (EFT), bank cheque or BPoint through the ECQ Candidate Portal.

Nomination deposits are refunded to candidates who are successfully elected and to candidates who receive more than 4% of the total number of formal votes.

Candidate nominations cannot be lodged until all requirements have been met. It is strongly recommended that candidates plan to complete these steps well in advance of nominating to ensure that the deadline for close of nominations can be met. Late or incomplete nominations cannot be accepted.

AFTER NOMINATION

Once the nomination process has been completed, the Returning Officer for the local government area will provide candidates with certification of their nomination and will advise details of the ballot draw to be held.

For political party-endorsed candidates, Registered Officers will be provided with the candidate nomination certifications.

A notice of nominations will be published on the ECQ’s website. Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, the ECQ must publish prescribed information from the candidate nomination form for each candidate following their nomination. This information will be published on the ECQ website and will remain publicly available until the conclusion of the election.

Information which will be held by the ECQ but will not be disclosed to the public as part of the nomination process: 

  • residential address of a candidate who is a silent elector
  • residential address of close associates named on a candidate’s nomination form
  • residential address of a person who is an elector endorsing a candidate, and
  • details of the dedicated campaign bank account, including BSB and account number, name of account and financial institution, of the candidate or group of candidates.

By signing the nomination form, candidates are (1) declaring that they are eligible to be a councillor and not disqualified under any provisions of the governing legislation, and (2) consenting to the information provided in their nomination form being published by the ECQ.

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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, which can be accessed via  www.legislation.qld.gov.au.

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 Campaign bank accounts and use of credit cards fact sheet below.

This fact sheet relates to candidates and groups of candidates contesting local government elections.

Dedicated campaign bank accounts

  • Candidates who plan to contest a local government election must open a dedicated campaign bank account prior to nominating for an election.
  • Account details must be provided to the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) during the candidate nomination process. Account details are not made public by the ECQ.
  • All gifts and loans received in support of the campaign must be deposited directly into this account and all expenses relating to the campaign must be paid from this account, under Queensland's electoral legislation.
  • Self-funded candidates are also required to operate a dedicated bank account and use this account for all transactions relating to their campaign.
  • Groups of candidates only require one dedicated bank account for the group. The details for this shared dedicated account must be provided to the ECQ by each candidate in the group during the nomination process, and when registering the group.
  • After the election, candidates and groups of candidates will be required to provide bank statements to the ECQ with their election summary return.
  • There are strict regulations on how campaign funds can be disbursed from a dedicated bank account after an election.
  • Records relating to the dedicated bank account must be kept and made available to the ECQ for at least five years after the election.

Use of credit cards not permitted

  • The account cannot have a credit card facility attached. The use of credit cards is strictly prohibited for election campaign expenses, as is using dedicated bank account funds to pay for a charge incurred using a credit card.

Offences

  • There are financial penalties for not complying with the dedicated account requirements and for using a credit card for campaign expenses. Failure to comply with banking requirements carries a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units (valued at $13,345 as at 1 July 2019).
  • Failing to comply with dedicated bank account requirements is also an integrity offence, meaning local government election candidates may also be disqualified from becoming a councillor.

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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 below.

This fact sheet relates to candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties, associated entities, third party campaigners and donors involved in local government elections.

Candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties, associated entities and third parties are responsible for keeping full and accurate records to meet electoral funding and disclosure requirements.

Good record keeping practices promote accountability and transparency and increase public confidence in election campaigning in local government. Records help to protect candidates, groups, political parties, third parties and political donors should the integrity of financial reporting be subjected to review during or after an election campaign.

What records need to be kept?

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 totalling $500 or more.

Political participants must keep all relevant records required to make proper electoral disclosures. Bank statements, invoices, receipt books, deposit books, cheque books, ledgers, and notices which relate to information contained in a disclosure return should also be kept. Records may be in paper or electronic form.

How long should records be kept?

All relevant election records for funding and disclosure must be kept and made available to the ECQ for inspection for a period of at least five years after the election.

All electoral participants are subject to ECQ compliance reviews and may be asked to provide evidence to satisfy the ECQ that disclosure requirements have been properly met.

Tips for good record keeping

Good record keeping supports full and accurate disclosure. It is strongly recommended to:

  • record receipt of gifts and loans as soon as practical so they are not overlooked or forgotten
  • save any paper records electronically to preserve and ensure they are not destroyed
  • ensure record keeping is systematic and comprehensive for easy and quick retrieval
  • regularly back-up electronic records, and
  • ensure record keeping is up-to-date.

What are the penalties for not keeping adequate records?

Failure to keep relevant election records may incur a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units (valued at $2,669 as at 1 July 2019).

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For more information, see Fact Sheet 10 – Transitional disclosure returns below.

This fact sheet relates to announced candidates and sitting councillors, groups of candidates, registered political parties, associated entities and third party campaigners.

New disclosure obligations for sitting councillors and local government election candidates commenced on 20 January 2020.

To transition to the new laws, all sitting councillors and announced candidates must lodge transitional disclosure returns within 14 days of the new laws commencing.

The returns are now available to lodge via the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System and must be lodged by 3 February 2020.

These returns must be lodged:

  • even if there is nothing to declare (a ‘nil return’ is required in this case)
  • by each candidate or councillor personally (an agent cannot complete it on a candidate or councillor’s behalf), and
  • even if the councillor does not intend on contesting the 2020 local government election.

The onus is on all candidates and councillors to know their obligations.

Registered political parties, associated entities, and third party campaigners are also required to lodge a transitional return for their electoral expenditure.

In their returns, candidates and councillors are required to disclose:

  1. all gifts and loans received (for electoral purposes) of $500 or more between the start of their disclosure period and 19 January 2020, and
  2. all electoral expenditure incurred between 1 May 2019 and 19 January 2020.

Transitional gift/loan disclosure return

Councillors and candidates must disclose all gifts and/or loans (other than from a financial institution) of $500 or more received from the start of their disclosure period.

For most councillors, the disclosure period started 30 days after the last election they contested. If this was the 2016 local government election, the disclosure period started on 18 April 2016.

If a councillor was appointed to fill a vacancy and has never contested a local government election, the disclosure period started on the day they announced their intention to contest the 2020 local government election.

For candidates who have not previously contested a local government election, the disclosure period started on the date they announced or otherwise indicated an intention to contest the 2020 local government election.

For candidates who have contested a Queensland local government election in the last five years, the disclosure period started 30 days after election day for that election.

For the purposes of the transitional returns, for all sitting councillors and announced candidates, the disclosure period ended on 19 January 2020, and a new disclosure period for the 2020 local government election commenced on 20 January 2020.

For those candidates who were operating as a group prior to 20 January 2020, all members of the group must still lodge a transitional gift/loan disclosure return. However, only one candidate in the group (i.e. the person who will act as the group’s agent going forward), is required to disclose the gifts/loans. All other candidates in the group should lodge a ‘nil’ return.

The returns should be lodged on the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System. Gifts/loans previously disclosed will be pre-filled into the transitional gift/loan return.

For definitions and information about gifts, refer to the Glossary of Local Government Definitions on the ECQ website.

Transitional electoral expenditure disclosure returns

Councillors and announced candidates must disclose electoral expenditure incurred between 1 May 2019 to 19 January 2020. If the total value of electoral expenditure incurred is $500 or more, each individual transaction must be disclosed. If not, the value of electoral expenditure incurred can be disclosed as a lump sum.

Candidates who intend on contesting the 2020 local government election as a group must register as a group first and then have the agent of the group lodge this return. Registered political parties, associated entities and third party campaigners are also required to lodge these returns.

When lodging returns for transactions of electoral expenditure, the following information must be disclosed:

  • name and business address of the person who supplied the goods or services
  • a description of the goods or service (e.g. advertising, filming)
  • the amount of the electoral expenditure
  • the date(s) the expenditure was incurred, and
  • the purpose for the expenditure.

Third party campaigners must also disclose whether:

  • the expenditure was incurred to benefit, support or oppose a particular candidate, group of candidates or political party in the election (and, if so, the name of the candidate, group of candidate or political party), and
  • the expenditure was incurred to support or oppose a particular issue in the election (and if so, a description of the issue).

Candidates and groups of candidates will be required to attach a bank statement from their dedicated campaign bank account for the entirety of the disclosure period.

Expenditure returns should be lodged on the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System.

For definitions and information about electoral expenditure, refer to the Glossary of Local Government Definitions.

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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.

For definitions and more information about these requirements, refer to Fact Sheet 12 - Disclosure of political donations and Fact Sheet 13 - Disclosure of electoral expenditure below.

1. Local candidates and groups of candidates

What

Requirement

When

Disclosure Period

Receiving a gift or loan

Candidates receiving gifts or loans of $500 or more from a single entity during the candidate’s disclosure period are required to give a real-time return, in addition to their election summary return

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of receipt

In the last 7 business days prior to election day: Within 24 hours of receipt

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day

For a candidate who has contested a local government election within the last 5 years:

Start: 30 days after election day for the last election which the candidate contested.

End: 30 days after election day for the election.

For a candidate who has not contested a local government election within the last 5 years:

Start: The day the candidate announces their intention to contest the election, is endorsed by their party, or nominates for the election (whichever is earlier).

End: 30 days after election day for the election.

Groups of candidates:

Start: 30 days after election day for the most recently held quadrennial election.

End: 30 days after election day for the current election.

Electoral expenditure incurred

Candidates who incur electoral expenditure of $500 or more during their disclosure period are required to complete a disclosure return on the expenditure gift in real-time and an election summary return

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of expenditure

In the last 7 business days prior to election day: Within 24 hours of the expenditure being incurred

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day

2. Political donors

What

Requirement

When

Disclosure Period

Gift made to candidate or group of candidates

Donors are required to give a return once the $500 threshold has been reached during the disclosure period.

Within 7 business days.

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election

Gift made to a registered political party

Donors are required to give a return once the $500 threshold has been reached during the disclosure period.

Within 7 business days.

Donor disclosure period:

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election

Gift made to another third party (including third party campaigners)

Donors are required to give a return once the $500 threshold has been reached during the donor’s disclosure period.

Within 7 business days.

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election.

3.Registered political parties (including associated entities)

What

Requirement

When

Disclosure Period

Receiving a gift or loan

Registered political parties receiving gifts or loans of $1,000 or more from a single entity during a reporting period are required to give a real-time return, as well as their bi-annual periodic return.

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of receipt.

Bi-annual periodic return: Within 8 weeks of the end of each period

Period 1: 1 January to 30 June each year

Period 2: 1 July to 31 December each year

Electoral expenditure incurred

Registered political parties who incur electoral expenditure for local government election purposes of $500 or more during their disclosure period are required to give a real-time return about the expenditure.

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of expenditure.

In the last 7 business days prior to election day: Within 24 hours of the expenditure being incurred

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day.

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election.

4. Third party campaigners

What

Requirement

When

Disclosure Period

Expenditure for political activity in support of the campaign for a candidate, group of candidates, registered political party or another third party donor or campaigner

If a third party incurs political expenditure (including making gifts) of $500 or more during their disclosure period, a return about the expenditure must be given in real-time, and at the conclusion of the election.

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of expenditure.

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election

Gifts (donations) received that enabled expenditure for political activity

If a third party incurs political expenditure of $500 or more during their disclosure period and received a gift that was used either wholly or in part to enable the expenditure, a return about the gift must be given in real-time and at the conclusion of the election.

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of the gift being used to incur political expenditure.

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day

Start: 30 days after election day for the most recently held quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the current election.

This information is also available to download as Fact Sheet 11 – Quick guide to electoral disclosure obligations below.

This fact sheet relates to candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties, associated entities, third party campaigners and donors involved in local government elections


Note for 2020 local government quadrennial elections

New legislation relating to the disclosure requirements for campaign donations and electoral expenditure commence on 20 January 2020.  Announced candidates, sitting councillors, registered political parties, associated entities and third party campaigners will be required to lodge transitional disclosure returns in within 14 days of the new legislation commencing. Specific requirements apply to all electoral participants during the transitional period. Refer to Transitional Disclosure Returns for more information.

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.

For definitions and more information about these requirements, refer to Disclosure of political donations and Disclosure of electoral expenditure.

1. Local candidates and groups of candidates

What

Requirement

When

Disclosure Period

Receiving a gift or loan

Candidates receiving gifts or loans of $500 or more from a single entity during the candidate’s disclosure period are required to give a real-time return, in addition to their election summary return

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of receipt

In the last 7 business days prior to election day: Within 24 hours of receipt

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day

For a candidate who has contested a local government election within the last 5 years:

Start: 30 days after election day for the last election which the candidate contested.

End: 30 days after election day for the election.

For a candidate who has not contested a local government election within the last 5 years:

Start: The day the candidate announces their intention to contest the election, is endorsed by their party, or nominates for the election (whichever is earlier).

End: 30 days after election day for the election.

Groups of candidates:

Start: 30 days after election day for the most recently held quadrennial election.

End: 30 days after election day for the current election.

Electoral expenditure incurred

Candidates who incur electoral expenditure of $500 or more during their disclosure period are required to complete a disclosure return on the expenditure gift in real-time and an election summary return

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of expenditure

In the last 7 business days prior to election day: Within 24 hours of the expenditure being incurred

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day

2. Political donors

What

Requirement

When

Disclosure Period

Gift made to candidate or group of candidates

Donors are required to give a return once the $500 threshold has been reached during the disclosure period.

Within 7 business days.

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election

Gift made to a registered political party

Donors are required to give a return once the $500 threshold has been reached during the disclosure period.

Within 7 business days.

Donor disclosure period:

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election

Gift made to another third party (including third party campaigners)

Donors are required to give a return once the $500 threshold has been reached during the donor’s disclosure period.

Within 7 business days.

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election.

3. Registered political parties (including associated entities)

What

Requirement

When

Disclosure Period

Receiving a gift or loan

Registered political parties receiving gifts or loans of $1,000 or more from a single entity during a reporting period are required to give a real-time return, as well as their bi-annual periodic return.

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of receipt.

Bi-annual periodic return: Within 8 weeks of the end of each period

Period 1: 1 January to 30 June each year

Period 2: 1 July to 31 December each year

Electoral expenditure incurred

Registered political parties who incur electoral expenditure for local government election purposes of $500 or more during their disclosure period are required to give a real-time return about the expenditure.

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of expenditure.

In the last 7 business days prior to election day: Within 24 hours of the expenditure being incurred

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day.

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election.

4. Third party campaigners

What

Requirement

When

Disclosure Period

Expenditure for political activity in support of the campaign for a candidate, group of candidates, registered political party or another third party donor or campaigner

If a third party incurs political expenditure (including making gifts) of $500 or more during their disclosure period, a return about the expenditure must be given in real-time, and at the conclusion of the election.

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of expenditure.

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day

Start: 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election

End: 30 days after election day for the election

Gifts (donations) received that enabled expenditure for political activity

If a third party incurs political expenditure of $500 or more during their disclosure period and received a gift that was used either wholly or in part to enable the expenditure, a return about the gift must be given in real-time and at the conclusion of the election.

Real-time return:

Within 7 business days of the gift being used to incur political expenditure.

Election summary return:

Within 15 weeks after election day

Start: 30 days after election day for the most recently held quadrennial election

End: 30 days after

election day for the current election.

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This fact sheet relates to candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties, associated entities, third-party campaigners and donors involved in local government elections.

A candidate or agent for a group of candidates must provide the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) with a disclosure return for gifts and loans (i.e. political donations) received during a disclosure period for the election if:

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

Once the $500 threshold has been reached, the candidate or agent for a group of candidates 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.

The relevant details to be disclosed include the value of the gift or loan, as well as:

  • if the donor is an individual - the name and address of the individual
  • if the donor is an unincorporated association - the name of the association and the names and addresses of the members of the executive committee of the association
  • if the donor is a trust fund or foundation - the names and addresses of the trustees of the fund or foundation or the title or other description of the trust found or foundation, and
  • for any other entity - their name and address.

Accepting gifts or loans where the relevant details are not known by the recipient is prohibited. The gift recipient and the donor are both required to disclose this information in their own disclosure returns and the information will be published on the ECQ website in accordance with legislative requirements.

How to lodge a return

Disclosures can be lodged in the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System at disclosures.ecq.qld.gov.au.

What is the disclosure due date?

All candidates and agents for groups of candidates required to disclose gifts/loans, must give the ECQ a return in real-time, i.e. within seven business days of the gift or loan being received.

If a gift or loan is received during the last seven days before an election day, the gift or loan must be disclosed within one day of receipt.

All candidates and agents for groups of candidates must also lodge an election summary return within 15 weeks after the election, regardless of whether they were successfully elected or not, or the value of gifts/loans received. This return must state the total value of gifts/loans received during the relevant disclosure period.

What is the disclosure period for the election?

If a candidate has contested the previous local government quadrennial election or a by-election the disclosure period begins 30 days after election day for that election and ends 30 days after election day for the current election.

If a candidate has not contested a local government election within the past five years, their disclosure period begins either on the day the candidate announces their intention to be a candidate for the election or nominates as a candidate for the election and ends 30 days after election day for the current election.

For groups of candidates, the disclosure period begins 30 days after the last quadrennial election and ends 30 days after the current election.

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This fact sheet relates to candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties, associated entities, third-party campaigners and donors involved in local government elections.

New requirements for the disclosure of electoral expenditure related to local government campaigns commenced on 20 January 2020. If a candidate, group of candidates, registered political party, or associated entity, incurs $500 or more in electoral expenditure during their disclosure period for the election, they must give the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) a return about the expenditure. The ECQ is required to publish electoral expenditure disclosures under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

Expenditure items are cumulative, meaning it does not matter whether the expenditure was incurred in small amounts, or all at once. Once the threshold of $500 is met, all previous and future expenditure must be disclosed, regardless of value.

What is electoral expenditure?

The term ‘electoral expenditure’ has a specific meaning for local government election purposes.

Electoral expenditure is any expenditure incurred (including a gift-in-kind given) at any time, which consists of any of the following:

  • broadcasting a political advertisement
  • publishing (either in print media or on the internet) a political advertisement
  • displaying a political advertisement at a place of entertainment (e.g. theatre)
  • producing or distributing any of the above
  • producing or distributing any other material during an election that advocates a vote for or against a candidate, group of candidates (for local government elections), or a registered political party, and is required to include an authorisation at its end, and
  • carrying out an opinion poll or other research relating to the election, if the dominant purpose of the poll or research is to, directly or indirectly:
    • promote or oppose the election of a candidate or group of candidates
    • promote or oppose a registered political party in relation to the election, or
    • otherwise influence voting at the election.

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

Disclosure of electoral expenditure

Under Queensland’s electoral legislation, candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties, and associated entities must disclose electoral expenditure in real-time during their disclosure period and also in a summary disclosure return within 15 weeks after the election.

How to lodge a return

Disclosures should be lodged via the Electronic Disclosure System.

Each expenditure return requires:

  • the name and address of the person who supplied the goods or services;
  • a description of the goods or service;
  • the amount of the electoral expenditure;
  • when the expenditure was incurred; and
  • the purpose of the expenditure.

Real-time Disclosure

All candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties and associated entities who incur electoral expenditure of $500 or more during their disclosure period for the election must give the ECQ a return within seven business days of the expenditure being incurred. This is referred to as real-time disclosure. If expenditure is incurred during the last seven days before an election day, the expenditure must be disclosed within one day of the transaction.

Summary Disclosure Return

In addition to real-time disclosure, all candidates and groups of candidates must lodge an election summary return within 15 weeks after the election, regardless if candidates were successfully elected or not or the amount of expenditure incurred. This return must state the total amount of electoral expenditure incurred during a candidate or group’s disclosure period.

Registered political parties must also lodge this return if they endorse a candidate in an election, while associated entities must do so if they incurred more than $500.

Election summary disclosure returns should be lodged via the Electronic Disclosure System.

What is the disclosure period for the election?

Disclosure periods differ according to a candidates’ circumstances and whether they have previously contested a local government election or by-election.

For local government candidates who have contested the previous election or by-election (whether they were successfully elected or not), the disclosure period starts 30 days after the polling day for the previous quadrennial election or by-election in which they were a candidate. The disclosure period ends 30 days after polling day for the current election.

For local government candidates who have NOT contested an election within the past five years, the disclosure period starts on the day the candidate announces their intention to be a candidate for the election; or, nominates as a candidate for the election. The disclosure period ends 30 days after the polling day for the current election.

For groups of candidates, registered political parties and associated entities, the disclosure period started on 18 April 2016 and will end 30 days after election day for the election.

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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 below.

This fact sheet relates to candidates, groups of candidates, registered political parties, associated entities, third-party campaigners and donors involved in local government elections.

Electoral advertising is any advertisement which advocates a vote for or against a candidate, group of candidates, or a registered political party.

When do electoral advertising rules apply?

Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, candidates, groups of candidates and campaigns must adhere to the provisions relating to election material during an election period. Some provisions may also apply outside 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 election day.

Authorisation

Any advertisement, handbill, pamphlet, or notice which is able or intends to influence an elector about voting at an election, or affect the result of the election, must show the name and address of the person authorising the material. Another person can authorise election material on a candidate’s behalf. The authoriser’s address must be a street address.

Misleading electors

It is an offence to 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 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. This offence may apply outside an election period.

There are significant penalties for contravening electoral advertising rules. Refer to Offences and penalties for candidates and councillors.

Election signage

There are regulations relating to the display of election signage next to state-controlled roads. Candidates should check these requirements prior to displaying any signage near state-controlled roads. Information on election signage and state-controlled roads can be obtained from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Local councils determine the rules that apply to election signage and advertising devices (such as corflutes) next to local roads, private property and on some state-controlled roads in their area. Candidates should confirm their council’s specific regulations relating to the quantity, placement and the timeframes in which they can be displayed, prior to displaying any election signage.

How-to-vote cards

There are specific regulations relating to the design, authorisation and distribution of how-to-vote cards. Refer to How-to-vote cards.

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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 below.

This fact sheet relates to candidates, groups of candidates and registered political parties contesting local government elections.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) can release information about electors to specific electoral participants before and after an election.

Who can access electoral roll information?

Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, local government 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 after the close of candidate nominations.

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.

Registered political parties can request electoral data about each local government area after the election.

What information is released?

Before the election, candidates receive electoral roll information containing the names and addresses of electors in their local government area or division/ward. The addresses of silent electors are not released.

After the election, elected councillors and registered political parties will receive:

  • information about whether the elector voted in person, by post, or in another way, and
  • if the elector voted in person at a polling booth within the local government area where they are enrolled or location of the polling booth where they voted.

Information about silent electors is not released.

How can the information be used?

For the information released before an election, the recipient must not use, disclose, or allow another person to access the information unless it is for:

  • any purpose related to an election
  • the purposes of checking the accuracy of the information
  • the performance of a councillor’s functions in relation to electors enrolled on the electoral roll, or
  • the performance of their duties by an official or employee of a political party in relation to the electors enrolled on the voters roll.

Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, failure to comply with these provisions carries a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units (valued at $2,669 as at 1 July 2019), or 6 months imprisonment.

Under the Electoral Act 1992, for information released after the election, a person must not use, disclose to another person, or allow another person to access given to them unless the use, disclosure or access is for a purpose related to an election.

Failure to comply with these provisions carries a maximum penalty of 200 penalty units (valued at $26,690 as at 1 July 2019).

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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.

Below is a list of offences under the LGEA that may apply to candidates and councillors who breach their financial disclosure obligations. This is not a complete list and there may be other offences that apply or are enforced by other government agencies.

Offences under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011

LGEA Section

Offence

Description

Maximum penalty*

Offences (other than integrity offences)

122

Failure to notify public about disclosure obligations

A candidate must take reasonable steps to notify the public that the candidate is required to:

  • give   a return to the ECQ about a gift or loan they have received, and
  • state   the relevant details for the gift or loan in the return.

1 penalty unit

122A

Failure to notify third party of obligation to give a return

A candidate must notify a third party from whom gifts of $500 or more are received that states the third party may be required to give a return about the gift.

20 penalty units

127B

Payment of campaign expenses by credit card

A candidate must not:

  • use   a credit card to pay an amount for the conduct of their election campaign, or
  • pay   an amount out of their dedicated account to pay a charge incurred using a   credit card.

Refer to Campaign bank accounts and use of credit cards for further information.

100 penalty units

195(1)

Failure to give a return within the time required

A person must give a return under Part 6 of the LGEA within the time required by the provision.

100 penalty units

195(4)

Knowingly giving another person false or misleading particulars

A person must not give another person information relating to a return that is, to the knowledge of the person, false or misleading.

20 penalty units

195A

Knowingly publishing false or misleading information about a gift

A person must not publish information about a gift that the person knows is false or misleading.

20 penalty units

196

Failure to keep records for the time required

A person must keep records relating to a return for at least 5 years after the conclusion of the election.

20 penalty units

197

Failure to obtain information for a return

A person must take all reasonable steps to obtain the particulars required to complete a return and complete the return to the extent practicable.

20 penalty units

198

Failure to give notice of particulars relating to a return

A person who lodged an incomplete return must notify the ECQ if they obtain particulars relevant to the return within 5 years after the conclusion of the election.

20 penalty units

Integrity offences

126 and 127

Failure to operate a dedicated account in accordance with the LGEA

A candidate or group of candidates must operate a dedicated account for the election in the ways permitted under sections 126 and 127 of the LGEA.

Refer to Campaign bank accounts and use of credit cards for further information.

100 penalty units

194A

Knowingly making or accepting an unlawful political donation

A person must not knowingly do an act or make an omission that is unlawful under the prohibited donor provisions of the LGEA.

Refer to Prohibited Donors Scheme for more information.

400 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment

194C

Knowingly providing false or misleading information relating to a determination

A person must not provide information in an application for determination that the person knows is false or misleading.

400 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment

195(2) & 195(3)

Knowingly giving a return that contains false or misleading particulars

A person must not give a return that contains particulars that are, to their knowledge, false or misleading.

100 penalty units

Serious integrity offences

194B

Knowingly seeking to circumvent the prohibition on political donations

A person must not knowingly participate in a scheme to circumvent a prohibition on political donations.

Refer to Prohibited Donors Scheme for more information.

1,500 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment

*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 below.

This fact sheet relates to candidates and groups of candidates contesting local government elections.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) is responsible for administering and enforcing the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 (LGEA), which includes penalties that may apply to local government candidates and sitting councillors who breach their disclosure obligations. Note that councillors and candidates may also be subject to laws enforced by other government agencies. This fact sheet is intended to provide information only in relation to those laws administered by the ECQ.

What happens if a candidate or councillor commits an offence under the LGEA?  

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.

What are the offences relating to financial disclosure under the LGEA?  

Offences under the LGEA that may apply to candidates and councillors who breach their financial disclosure obligations may constitute integrity offences or serious integrity offences.

Offences under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011

LGEA Section

Offence

Description

Maximum penalty*

Offences (other than integrity offences)

122

Failure to notify public about disclosure obligations

A candidate must take reasonable steps to notify the public that the candidate is required to:

  • give   a return to the ECQ about a gift or loan they have received, and
  • state   the relevant details for the gift or loan in the return.

1 penalty unit

122A

Failure to notify third party of obligation to give a return

A candidate must notify a third party from whom gifts of $500 or more are received that states the third party may be required to give a return about the gift.

20 penalty units

127B

Payment of campaign expenses by credit card

A candidate must not:

  • use   a credit card to pay an amount for the conduct of their election campaign, or
  • pay   an amount out of their dedicated account to pay a charge incurred using a   credit card.

Refer to Campaign bank accounts and use of credit cards for further information.

100 penalty units

195(1)

Failure to give a return within the time required

A person must give a return under Part 6 of the LGEA within the time required by the provision.

100 penalty units

195(4)

Knowingly giving another person false or misleading particulars

A person must not give another person information relating to a return that is, to the knowledge of the person, false or misleading.

20 penalty units

195A

Knowingly publishing false or misleading information about a gift

A person must not publish information about a gift that the person knows is false or misleading.

20 penalty units

196

Failure to keep records for the time required

A person must keep records relating to a return for at least 5 years after the conclusion of the election.

20 penalty units

197

Failure to obtain information for a return

A person must take all reasonable steps to obtain the particulars required to complete a return and complete the return to the extent practicable.

20 penalty units

198

Failure to give notice of particulars relating to a return

A person who lodged an incomplete return must notify the ECQ if they obtain particulars relevant to the return within 5 years after the conclusion of the election.

20 penalty units

Integrity offences

126 and 127

Failure to operate a dedicated account in accordance with the LGEA

A candidate or group of candidates must operate a dedicated account for the election in the ways permitted under sections 126 and 127 of the LGEA.

Refer to Campaign bank accounts and use of credit cards for further information.

100 penalty units

194A

Knowingly making or accepting an unlawful political donation

A person must not knowingly do an act or make an omission that is unlawful under the prohibited donor provisions of the LGEA.

Refer to Prohibited Donors Scheme for more information.

400 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment

194C

Knowingly providing false or misleading information relating to a determination

A person must not provide information in an application for determination that the person knows is false or misleading.

400 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment

195(2) & 195(3)

Knowingly giving a return that contains false or misleading particulars

A person must not give a return that contains particulars that are, to their knowledge, false or misleading.

100 penalty units

Serious integrity offences

194B

Knowingly seeking to circumvent the prohibition on political donations

A person must not knowingly participate in a scheme to circumvent a prohibition on political donations.

Refer to Prohibited Donors Scheme for more information.

1,500 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment

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

This is list of offences is not exhaustive and there may be other offences that apply to candidates and councillors aside from the financial disclosure provisions of the LGEA.

Candidates and councillors should familiarise themselves with the full content of the relevant legislation and seek independent legal advice if required.

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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 below.

This factsheet relates to groups of candidates for local government elections, or those considering forming a group of candidates. A group of candidates is different to those candidates endorsed by a political party.

Candidates may form a group to contest a local government election in order to campaign collectively, execute common policies and achieve shared goals if elected to council. The name of the group will appear next to their name on the ballot paper and identify them as member of a group of candidates.

Under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, candidates who wish to form a group must register with the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) before they begin campaigning as a group.

Candidates endorsed by a registered political party are not required to register as a group and are able to engage in group campaign activities without registering with the ECQ.

Why register as a group?

Once candidates register a group with the ECQ, they can begin conducting group campaign activities, such as sharing campaign funds, advertising and other resources.

When to register as a group

Candidates who wish to form a group can register their group with the ECQ at any time, up until 12pm on the last day of nominations. Candidates do not need to formally nominate as a candidate before registering as a group. Note, however, that all members of the group will need to individually nominate for the election before nominations close.

Candidates are prohibited from conducting any form of group campaign activities prior to registering as a group. Conducting group campaign activities before registering with the ECQ could result in financial penalties of up to 100 penalty units ($13,345 as at 1 July 2019).

What are group campaign activities?

Only candidates who are members of a registered group (or endorsed by a political party) can conduct group campaign activities.

Group campaign activities include any of the following activities, carried out in an intentionally coordinated way by two or more candidates:

  • 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
  • using the same brands or images
  • using the same how-to-vote cards
  • participating in the same fundraising activities or events
  • sharing the same resources for election campaigns (other than volunteers), and/or
  • sharing gifts or loans.

Unplanned activities that may result in candidates having the same outcomes would not be considered group campaign activities. This sometimes occurs during election campaigns, particularly in regional and remote areas. For example, if two candidates independently choose to campaign on the same issue, and do not share policy documents, resources, advertising, or financially assist one another, the ECQ would be unlikely to consider those candidates to be engaging in ‘group campaign activities’.

How to register a group

Groups of candidates contesting a local government election must register as a group before undertaking any group campaign activities.

To register as a group, the group must give a Record of Group Membership to the ECQ which:

  • states the name of the group
  • states the names of each member of the group
  • is signed by each candidate who wishes to be a member of the group, and
  • states the details of the group’s dedicated bank account.

The group’s dedicated bank account must be opened before the group can be registered with the ECQ.

At the time of registration, the group must complete an Instrument of Agent Appointment to appoint an adult as agent for the group. This Instrument is included in the Record of Group Membership. The agent is commonly also a candidate member of the group, though this is not essential. As part of appointing an agent, the Instrument of Agent Appointment must:

  • state the name and address of the person to be appointed as the group’s agent,
  • be signed by each candidate who is a member of the group, and
  • be signed by an adult who is to be appointed as the agent of the group.

Potential agents should make themselves aware of the full extent of the role’s responsibilities prior to registering their appointment as a group’s agent. The ECQ publishes the Record of Group Membership, including details of agent appointments.

What is the penalty for non-compliance?

Candidates who are not a member of a group or endorsed by a political party are strictly prohibited from engaging in group campaign activities. Non-compliance carries a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units ($13,345 as at 1 July 2019) and is an integrity offence.

OBLIGATIONS FOR GROUPS OF CANDIDATES

What are the obligations for a group?

The disclosure obligations for a group of candidates must be managed by the agent of a group. If there is no agent for a group (i.e. the agent is removed or resigns), the candidates are all responsible for ensuring compliance with the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

Disclosure of expenditure

Agents for groups must give the ECQ a return within a specified timeframe if the group incurs $500 or more in electoral expenditure. Please refer to Disclosure of electoral expenditure for further information about the disclosure obligations of groups as they relate to electoral expenditure incurred by or on behalf of the group.

Disclosure of gifts/loans received

Agents for groups must give the ECQ a return within a specified timeframe if the group receives a gift or loan of $500 or more. Please refer to Disclosure of political donations for further information about the disclosure obligations of groups as they relate to gifts or loans received by the group.

Election summary return

Within 15 weeks after polling day, the agent for the group must give the ECQ a return which contains summary information for all gifts/loans received, and expenditure incurred during the group’s disclosure period. This disclosure period began 30 days after polling day for the last local government quadrennial election and ends 30 days after the election.

Campaign bank account requirements

Groups are required to maintain one dedicated bank account for the group. This bank account must be opened before the group can be registered with the ECQ.

Refer to Campaign bank accounts and use of credit cards for further information about dedicated bank account requirements.

AGENTS FOR GROUPS OF CANDIDATES

What is an agent?

Any adult can be an agent for a group of local government candidates. Typically, the agent is also a candidate for the election. The name of the agent will be published on the ECQ’s website.

The agent is the person responsible for ensuring the group’s obligations are met and is accountable and liable for financial penalties issued in the event of non-compliance.

Appointment and removal of agents

An agent must be appointed when a group of candidates is first registered.

If circumstances change and the agent is no longer able to perform their duties, the agent can give the ECQ a signed notice stating that they have resigned as the agent. An agent can also be removed if all members of the group provide the ECQ with a signed notice stating that the agent has ceased to be appointed.

If, at any time, an agent is not appointed for a group, all members of the group assume responsibility for obligations under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, including any penalties which may be imposed for non-compliance. Once an agent resigns or is removed, a new agent can be appointed, including after the close of candidate nominations. To appoint a new agent, a new Instrument of Agent Appointment must be submitted.

Responsibilities of an agent

The agent for a group is responsible for:

  • ensuring all disclosure returns for gifts, loans, and expenditure are lodged by the due date, before, during, and after the election
  • ensuring all information contained in the returns is complete and accurate
  • informing donors about their disclosure obligations under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, including taking reasonable steps to notify the public
  • maintaining all records associated with disclosure returns for five years after the election (including bank statements from the group’s dedicated bank account), unless transferred to a member of the group, and
  • responding to the ECQ about any matters which arise in respect of the group’s compliance (before, during, and after the election).

While agents are responsible for these obligations, candidates also have an obligation to ensure agents do not give a return the candidate knows to be false or misleading. Allowing an agent to do so carries a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units ($13,345 as at 1 July 2019). The ECQ recommends that the agent ensures all candidates in the group review their completed return before it is submitted.

FORMS

Group registration and modifications should be completed online via the Electronic Disclosure System.

Should candidates, groups and agents not be able to access the EMS, the following forms can be downloaded from the ECQ website. Completed forms should be emailed to: fad@ecq.qld.gov.au.

  1. Form QLG05A - Group Registration and Record of Membership

    Use this form to register a group of candidates for the first time.

  2. Form QLG05B - Group Modification

    Use this form to add or remove members of the group.

  3. Form QLG05C - Group De-registration

    Use this form to de-register a group. This is required if the group disbands following an election.

  4. Form QLG05D - Agent Appointment or Removal

    Groups of candidates can use this form to appoint a new agent or remove an existing agent.

  5. Form QLG05E - Agent Resignation

This is form is to be used by the agent of a group of candidates when removing their own details from the ECQ register of agents for groups of candidates.

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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 and Fact Sheet 16 – Information for third parties below.

This fact sheet relates to individuals or entities who make donations or loans in support of a local government election campaign.

Recipients of political donations should make themselves familiar with these requirements and must ensure their donors are made aware of their obligations.

Who is a political donor?

A political donor is considered to be an individual or an entity who makes, or is considering making, a donation (gift) to a local government election candidate, a group of candidates, a registered political party or associated entity or another third party.

A political donor may also be an individual or entity who incurred an expense for a political activity, such as:

  • a gift/donation to a candidate
  • a gift/donation to a political party
  • publication (including radio, television, on the internet or through social media) of material which may influence voting at an election
  • a public expression of views on an issue in an election, or
  • a gift to a person on the understanding that it will be used for any of the above reasons.

What do political donors need to disclose?

If a donor makes a gift (donation) to a candidate, a group of candidates, a political party or another third party totalling $500 or more within the disclosure period for the election, the person must provide a disclosure return to the ECQ within seven business days of making the donation and also in a summary return to be lodged after the election. Other political expenditure (e.g. funding a political advertisement) also counts toward the $500 threshold.

Gifts and expenditure are cumulative, meaning it does not matter whether the gift

or expenditure was made in small amounts, or all at once. Once the threshold of $500 is met, all previous and future gifts and expenditure must be disclosed, regardless of their value.

Disclosures lodged in the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System should include the following details:

  • the total value of the expenditure being disclosed
  • the date the expenditure was incurred, and
  • the particular purpose of the expenditure.

If a donor makes a disclosable gift (i.e. $500 or more), they also have an obligation to provide additional details relating to the source of the donation or expense to the donation recipient.

This is referred to as a Notice of Details and there is a mutual obligation on the donor and recipient to provide each other with the following details:

  • donor’s name and address
  • type of gift (e.g. monetary gift, gift-in-kind, fundraising contribution, etc.)
  • name of the gift recipient
  • description of the gift
  • value of the gift
  • date the gift was made
  • purpose of the gift, and
  • if the gift was made to support or oppose an issue in the election.

After making a gift to a candidate, group of candidates, registered political party, or a third party campaigner, political donors are required to give the recipient a notice which contains all the relevant details for the gift.

This is a dual obligation. The recipient must collect the information when receiving the gift and the donor must give the information when giving the gift.

The gift recipient is required to disclose this information in their own disclosure returns and the information will be published on the ECQ website in accordance with legislative requirements.

When do donors have to disclose?

Donors must lodge their disclosure return with the ECQ within seven business days of reaching the $500 threshold. Once the donor reaches this threshold, every subsequent gift or expenditure item must be disclosed within seven business days of being made, regardless of their value.

All donors must also lodge an election summary return within 15 weeks after the election, stating the total amount of political expenditure incurred during the disclosure period.

How do donors lodge a return?

Disclosures should be lodged via the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System at https://disclosures.ecq.qld.gov.au.

What is the disclosure period?

If you’ve incurred expenses for a political activity:

When calculating whether you’ve expended $500 or more, you must take into account all expenses for political activities incurred during the disclosure period. The disclosure periods starts the day after the notice of the election is published in the local newspaper and ends at 6pm on election day.

If you’ve received a gift to enable your expenditure:

When calculating whether you’ve received an enabling gift of $500 or more, you must account for all gifts received between 30 days after the last local government quadrennial election and 30 days after election day for the current election (i.e. for the 2020 local government elections - 18 April 2016 until 29 April 2020).

Examples

Example 1: Donor A makes a $200 donation to Candidate A, followed by a $350 donation to Candidate B. Because Donor A has made donations totalling $500 or more, they are required to lodge two returns for the two gifts.

Example 2: Donor B makes a $300 donation to Candidate C, followed by a $100 donation to Candidate D and a $200 donation to Third Party Campaigner D. Because Donor B has made gifts to two candidates and a third party campaigner which collectively totals $500 or more, Donor B is required to lodge three returns for the three gifts.

Example 3:  Donor C makes a $100 donation to Candidate E, and places a political advertisement valued at $1,000 in a local newspaper. Because Donor C has made a gift and incurred political expenditure which collectively totals $500 or more, Donor C is required to lodge two returns; one for the gift made, and the other for the electoral expenditure incurred.

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This fact sheet relates to individuals and entities who donate or campaign in support of a candidate or group of candidates contesting a local government election.

What is a 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.

What is not a third party?

Registered political parties, associated entities, candidates, members of a committee for the election of a candidate, groups of candidates and candidates endorsed by a registered political party are not considered third parties.

Examples of third party activities

A third party donor may make a gift directly to a candidate, group of candidates, registered political party or another third party, such as an entity conducting campaign activity. A third party donor may also incur electoral expenditure, e.g. paying for a political advertisement in a newspaper.

A third party campaigner may receive a gift from a donor to incur electoral expenditure, such as paying for a political advertisement on a billboard. A third party campaigner may also incur expenditure, such as incurring electoral expenditure or making a gift to a candidate for an election

What are the disclosure obligations of third parties?

Once the $500 threshold has been reached, a third party 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.

When do third parties have to disclose?

Third parties must lodge their disclosure returns with the ECQ within seven business days of reaching the $500 threshold. Once a third party reaches this threshold, every subsequent gift or expenditure item must be disclosed within seven business days of being made.

A summary disclosure return must also be lodged within 15 weeks after the election. This return must state the total amount of political expenditure incurred during the disclosure period, as well as the total value of any gifts received to enable the expenditure.

What is the disclosure period for the election?

The disclosure period for any third party donor or campaigner who has incurred expenditure 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 on 18 April 2016 and ends on 29 April 2020.

How do third parties lodge a return?

Disclosures should be lodged via the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System at https://disclosures.ecq.qld.gov.au.

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Registered political parties and associated entities have financial disclosure obligations under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 if they endorse candidates for a local government election or incur electoral expenditure totalling $500 or more.

These obligations include:

  • disclosing to the ECQ gifts/loans received of $1,000 or more during a reporting period
  • disclosing to the ECQ electoral expenditure incurred of $500 or more
  • disclosing total expenditure incurred in an election summary return after the election
  • disclosing the details of the original donor or source of a gift or loan
  • providing a written notice to a donor when receiving a gift of $1000 or more, to inform the donor of their own obligation to disclose the gift to the ECQ, and
  • obtaining a written notice from a donor when receiving a gift of $1000 or more, to inform the recipient of the donor’s relevant details.

The obligations of registered political parties are separate and additional to those required of the candidates they endorse. Candidates endorsed by registered political parties are still required to lodge their own returns through the EDS.

For more information, see Fact Sheet 14 – Information for political parties

This fact sheet refers to registered political parties and associated entities.

  • A registered political party is a party that is registered in Queensland under the Electoral Act 1992. Political parties that are not registered are not subject to these obligations.
  • An associated entity is an entity that is controlled by one or more registered political parties, or which operates wholly or to a significant extent for the benefit of one or more registered political parties.

Registered political parties and associated entities have financial disclosure obligations under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 if they endorse candidates for a local government election or incur electoral expenditure totalling $500 or more.

These obligations include:

  • disclosing to the ECQ gifts/loans received of $1,000 or more during a reporting period
  • disclosing to the ECQ electoral expenditure incurred of $500 or more
  • disclosing total expenditure incurred in an election summary return after the election
  • disclosing the details of the original donor or source of a gift or loan
  • providing a written notice to a donor when receiving a gift of $1000 or more, to inform the donor of their own obligation to disclose the gift to the ECQ, and
  • obtaining a written notice from a donor when receiving a gift of $1000 or more, to inform the recipient of the donor’s relevant details.

The obligations of registered political parties are separate and additional to those required of the candidates they endorse. Candidates endorsed by registered political parties are still required to lodge their own returns through the EDS. Information for candidates can be found in the Candidate Handbook for Local Government Elections.

What is the disclosure period for registered political parties and associated entities?

When it comes to disclosing electoral expenditure, the disclosure period for registered political parties and associated entities:

  • starts 30 days after election day for the last quadrennial election, and
  • ends 30 days after election day for the current election.

This means that once electoral expenditure of $500 or more is incurred for a local government election during this period, all electoral expenditure must be disclosed.

The 2020 local government quadrennial election will be held on 28 March 2020.

Recent amendments to the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 mean that registered political parties and associated entities have interim obligations as part of the transitional arrangements for the new legislation.

After transitional arrangements have been completed, the disclosure period for the 2020 elections will start from the commencement of new legislative requirements on 20 January 2020, and end 30 days after election day, which will be 27 April 2020.

Refer to the Transitional Disclosure Returns fact sheet for more information.

The ECQ ensures that disclosures are made available for public view via the Electronic Disclosure System. All electoral participants should lodge their campaign donations and expenditure disclosures via the Electronic Disclosure System - https://disclosures.ecq.qld.gov.au.

For more information about the disclosure of gifts and loans and electoral expenditure by registered political parties and associated entities, refer to the Handbook for Registered Political Parties for Local Government Elections.

Notice to donors

If a registered political party receives a gift of $1,000 or more, the party must give the donor notice that they are required to lodge a return. This notice should be in writing and must be given as soon as practicable after the gift is received.

Notice from donors

In tandem with this notice being given to the donor by the party, each donor is obliged to provide a notice containing the particulars of the gift or loan to the party.

When lodging a return for gifts or loans received, registered political parties, associated entities and donors will need to disclose the relevant details for each gift or loan. Relevant details include the value of the gift or loan, as well as:

  • if the donor is an individual - the name and address of the individual
  • if the donor is an unincorporated association - the name of the association and the names and addresses of the members of the executive committee of the association
  • if the donor is a trust fund or foundation - the names and addresses of the trustees of the fund or foundation or the title or other description of the trust found or foundation, and
  • for any other entity - their name and address.

If a registered political party receives a gift or loan, and the donor who gave the gift or loan is not the original source of the funds (e.g. if a donor received a gift/loan which enabled them to make the gift/loan to the political party) then the party must disclose the relevant details for the entity that is the original source of the gift or loan.

Accepting gifts or loans where the relevant details are not known by the registered political party is prohibited. The gift recipient and the donor are both required to disclose this information in their own disclosure returns and the information will be published on the ECQ website in accordance with legislative requirements.

Disclosure by donors

While the threshold for registered political parties remains at $1,000, the disclosure threshold for donors is lower for local government elections. As such, registered political parties may observe donors disclosing gifts of amounts less than $1,000. The ECQ encourages registered political parties to lodge a corresponding return for all gifts disclosed by donors to achieve accurate and complete reconciliation in the Electronic Disclosure System.

More information

For explanations of terms as defined under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, refer to the Glossary of Definitions for Local Government.

For more information about the obligations and responsibilities of registered political parties and associated entities, refer to the Handbook for Registered Political Parties for Local Government Elections.

For instructions on how to register and lodge returns in the Electronic Disclosure System as the agent of a registered political party or as the financial controller of an associated entity, refer to EDS Help and Support.

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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.