Electoral Commission of Queensland

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions




Who is a prohibited donor?

A prohibited donor is :–

  • a property developer and their close associates; or
  • an industry representative organisation, which has property developers as the majority of its members.

For more details, see the ECQ Fact Sheet – Who is a Prohibited Donor? (PDF, 52.8 KB)

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Who is a property developer?

A property developer is a person/entity engaged in a business that regularly makes relevant planning applications –

  • concerning the development of residential or commercial land; and
  • with the ultimate purpose of the sale or lease of the land for profit.

For more details, see the ECQ Fact Sheet - Who is a Property Developer? (PDF, 51.8 KB)

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What is meant by ‘regular’?

Please see the ECQ Fact Sheet - What is meant by Regular? (PDF, 50.5 KB)

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Who is a close associate of a property developer?

A close associate of a property developer includes -

  1. a related body corporate;
  2. a director or other officer at a property development corporation;
  3. a person with more than 20% of the voting power of a development corporation or a related body corporate;
  4. a property developer’s spouse (including de facto or civil partner), or the spouse of a person described above in points b and c;
  5. if the property development corporation is a trustee, manager or responsible entity to a unit trust: i.e. a person who holds more than 20% of the units in the trust;
  6. if the property development corporation is a trustee, manager or responsible entity to a discretionary trust i.e. a beneficiary of the trust;
  7. if the corporation or related body corporate is an entity in a stapled security, then the other entity in the stapled security is also considered a close associate.
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Does the ban affect relatives and employees of property developers?

Relatives (other than a spouse, de facto or civil partner) and employees of property developers are not considered prohibited donors unless they fall into one of the categories that define close associates.

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Does the Prohibited Donors Scheme apply to engineers, architects, town planners, builders and other people involved in property development?

Professional service providers, engaged by property developers, who:

  • do not themselves make relevant planning applications on their own behalf or as part of their own business activities;
  • are not a close associate of an entity that does;

are not prohibited donors.

Nor is anyone who submits relevant planning applications on behalf of another individual or entity, as a service.

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Is the onus on the recipient to ensure a donation was not made by a developer, close associate or related industry body?

It is the responsibility of both the donor and the recipient to ensure a donation is lawful. It is illegal to make or receive a prohibited political donation.

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What restrictions apply when attending events, accepting invitations or hospitality?

Receiving modest hospitality, perishable food or tickets to sporting or cultural events (under $200 as a guide), all of which have no enduring value, and are received during the course of official duty, are not considered a political donation.

The Queensland Ministerial Handbook and the Queensland Parliament Code of Ethical Standards may be used as a guide.

For more details, see the ECQ Fact Sheet – Is Receiving Hospitality a Political Donation? (PDF, 53.0 KB)

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Is the $200 guide for hospitality cumulative?

No. The $200 value is only a guide and is not cumulative.

However, elected members and councillors must apply judgement if receiving hospitality from the same group or individual and establish whether their attendance at one function, or multiple attendances, would fall within the performance of their duties.

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Can property developers attend political fundraisers or make a contribution?

A prohibited donor is banned from making any contributions at a political fundraiser. These include entry fees, raffle tickets or purchases of merchandise.

A prohibited donor is permitted to attend a political fundraising event for free, however, they cannot pay for food or beverages or any other cost related to the event.

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How will I know if I am a prohibited donor?

If you are unsure of your status, you may apply to the Electoral Commissioner (or delegate) for a determination on whether you are not a prohibited donor, or you may seek your own legal advice.

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How do I apply for a determination on whether I am not a prohibited donor?

It is free to apply for a determination. Simply download the application form (Application for Determination (PDF, 246.2 KB)) on this website, and then lodge the completed form with the ECQ.

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Determination outcomes

According to the law, the Electoral Commissioner (or delegate) can only determine if a person/entity is not a prohibited donor.

If the Commissioner is satisfied that an applicant is not a prohibited donor then that person/entity is able to make political donations. The determination will remain in effect for 12 months unless it is revoked earlier.

If the Commissioner is not satisfied the applicant is not a prohibited donor then no determination will be made. An information notice explaining the reasons will be provided to the applicant.

See ECQ’s policy and procedure for determinations (Prohibited Donors Scheme Policy and Approved Forms).

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What happens if the determination is revoked?

If the Electoral Commissioner is no longer satisfied that a person/entity is not a prohibited donor, the determination will be revoked.

The applicant may appeal against the cancellation or lodge a new application.

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What steps will the ECQ take if a donation has been made by a prohibited donor?

If an investigation determines a donation has been accepted from a prohibited donor, the ECQ will recover that amount from the recipient or beneficiary of the donation as a debt due to the State.

If an unlawful donation was knowingly accepted, the amount recovered by the State will be double the value of the donation.

The ECQ may also take legal action which could result in serious penalties, including imprisonment.

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What is the penalty for making/receiving a gift by a prohibited donor?

If a person knowingly makes or accepts a prohibited donation they face a maximum penalty of $52,220 (400 penalty units) or two years’ imprisonment.

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What happens if a person makes a political donation on behalf of a prohibited donor?

If a person seeks to circumvent the Prohibited Donors Scheme they face a maximum penalty of $195,825 (1500 penalty units) or 10 years’ imprisonment. This includes making a donation on behalf of a prohibited donor, or soliciting someone to make an unlawful donation.

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Does the ban apply to property developers who make development applications in other States and Territories, but not in Queensland?

No.

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Does the ban apply to organisations that lodge development applications that relate to infrastructure for their business? (e.g. quarries or retail chains)

The ban does not apply if a development application relates to the organisation’s own place of business or premises, and if the development is not for the purpose of a sale or lease for profit.

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Is it legal to accept a donation before determining whether the donor is a prohibited donor?

That will depend on whether the donor is or isn’t a prohibited donor. People/entities should seek a determination before any transactions occur if they have any doubts about the status of a donor.

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Can federal political parties accept donations from property developers?

This firstly depends on the party’s constitution. If a federal party does not have the promotion of candidates for election to the Queensland Parliament as an object, it may accept donations from property developers. However, it cannot act as a conduit for a property developer to pass on gifts to a Queensland political party.

If a federal party does have the promotion of candidates for election to the Queensland Parliament as an object, it cannot accept donations from property developers.

Further, if the latter is also related to a State party that is registered in Queensland (in that one is ‘part of the other’, or ‘both are parts of the same political party’), then a gift made to either one of the parties is taken to be a gift to both.  Therefore, political donations from ‘prohibited donors to ‘related parties’ are illegal.

For more information, please see the ECQ Fact Sheet - How does the Prohibited Donors Scheme affect Federal Politics? (PDF, 52.0 KB)

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Can federal political parties use money provided by property developers on State election campaigns in Queensland?

No. If a gift is given to a federal party which does not have the election of candidates to the Queensland Parliament as one of its objects, it may not use money provided by a property developer on campaigns in Queensland.

If the federal party does have as the election of candidates to the Queensland Parliament as one of its objects it cannot accept gifts from property developers, irrespective of how it wishes to use the funds.

For more information, please see the ECQ Fact Sheet - How does the Prohibited Donors Scheme affect Federal Politics? (PDF, 52.0 KB)

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Can a prohibited donor fund their own election campaign?

Yes. A gift is the disposition of property from one party to another. An individual cannot dispose of property to themselves and therefore a self-funded campaign would not be unlawful.

The case would be different if a corporate entity that the candidate owned or directed made a gift to the candidate. This is a disposition of property and potentially an unlawful gift.

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