Prohibited donors scheme
Queensland law bans political donations from property developers and industry bodies which have property developers as the majority of their members. It's illegal to make or accept these prohibited donations. It's also against the law to ask for someone to make a donation on behalf of a prohibited donor.
The ECQ administers the Prohibited Donors Scheme. If you're unsure about whether you can make political donations, you may apply to us for a determination. According to the state's electoral laws, the Electoral Commissioner (or delegate) may only determine an applicant isn't a prohibited donor, or make no determination.
Find out if you're a prohibited donor
You can find out if you may be a prohibited donor by using our self-assessment tool. This tool is a simple guide to help potential donors to political parties, elected members, or candidates assess whether they may be a property developer.
The self-assessment should be used after reading all other relevant information on this page.
Note: The tool is intended to help individuals understand the different ways they may be captured as property developers and is not intended to be used by organisations. This tool is not legal advice and does not remove the responsibility for donors and recipients to be aware of their obligations and obtain legal advice if considered necessary. Nor does it serve as an alternative to submitting an application for determination.
Apply for a determination
The following documents outline the Prohibited Donors Scheme and include application forms for a determination or internal review.
- Application Form for Determination that a Person or another Entity is not a Prohibited Donor (PDF, 246.2 KB)
- Application Form for Internal Review of an Original Decision (PDF, 81.7 KB)
- Policy - Determination that a Person or an Entity is not a Prohibited Donor (PDF, 350.0 KB)
- Internal Review Guidelines (PDF, 51.6 KB)
- Procedure - Determination that a Person or an Entity is not a Prohibited Donor (PDF, 469.2 KB)
- Regulatory Strategy (PDF, 63.4 KB)
- Compliance and Enforcement Policy (PDF, 406.6 KB)
Determine if you may be a prohibited donor by using the self-assessment tool (guide only).
Register of non-prohibited donors
Below is a register of all determinations made by the Electoral Commissioner per s 277 of the Electoral Act 1992 (Qld) and s 113D of the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 (Qld).
The Electoral Commissioner has determined the entities listed here are not prohibited donors within the meaning of those Acts.
|Ref#||Determination made||Determination expires*||Name of entity||Name of applicant|
|001||12/12/2018||11/12/2019||Colorcorp Pty Ltd ATF The Digital Print Trust||Brett Shepherd|
|002||12/12/2018||13/06/2019||Alison Smith||Alison Smith|
|Ronald Baldwin||Ronald Baldwin|
Kingston Agricultural Pty Ltd ATF Toucan Discretionary Trust
*Unless revoked by the Electoral Commissioner
Spence v State of Queensland
On 17 April 2019, the High Court of Australia made orders in relation to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.
The Electoral Commissioner has made a decision regarding action required as a result of the High Court ruling.
See the full Statement of reasons (PDF, 58.6 KB).
Please note, you may experience issues viewing the above PDF file in Google Chrome. Refreshing the page may resolve the issue or please use another browser, i.e. Internet Explorer.
To find out more about the Prohibited Donor Scheme please see the fact sheets below. Should you require further information please email email@example.com.
- Fact Sheet 1 - What is a Political Donation PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 2 - What is Electoral Expenditure PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 3 - Who is a Prohibited Donor PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 4 - Who is a Property Developer PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 5 - Who is a Close Associate PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 6 - What is a Relevant Planning Application PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 7 - What is Meant by Regular PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 8 - Applying for and Making a Determination PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 9 - Is Receiving Hospitality a Political Donation PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 10 - Penalties for Making Unlawful Political Donations PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 11 - Under what Circumstances is a Political Donation Repaid PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 12 - What is a Scheme to Circumvent the Prohibition on Particular Political Donations PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 13 - Fundraising Contributions PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 14 - How does the Prohibited Donors Scheme affect Federal Politics PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 15 - Information for Donors – Local Government Elections PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 16 - Information for Donors – State Government Elections PDF (0.05 MB)
- Fact Sheet 17 - Disclosure Obligation Times PDF (0.06 MB)
Frequently asked questions
If you're 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Regular means periodic, recurring, continuous or with precedent. No specific quantity of relevant planning applications, or time frame in which they are made, can be attributed to the definition. Planning applications differ in size and complexity, with some projects requiring many separate planning applications.
Some property developers may submit planning applications many times in a year. While developers on large-scale projects may only submit applications every few years. To consider if an individual or entity is a property developer, both these scenarios may be regarded as regular.
The Electoral Commissioner decides whether an individual or entity is a property developer and has made an unlawful political donation based on the facts and circumstances of the case.
A close associate of a property developer includes:
- a related body corporate;
- a director or other officer at a property development corporation;
- a person with more than 20% of the voting power of a development corporation or a related body corporate;
- a property developer’s spouse (including de facto or civil partner), or the spouse of a person described above in points b and c;
- 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;
- if the property development corporation is a trustee, manager or responsible entity to a discretionary trust i.e. a beneficiary of the trust;
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (PDF) and the Queensland Parliament Code of Ethical Standards (PDF) may be used as a guide.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.