Local government election participants

I want to be a candidate. What do I need to do?

There are several steps that must be taken by anyone interested in being a candidate for local government. These are required by the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

Steps must be completed both before nominating, and after the election, and whether or not you are elected.

When nominating you must:

All candidates must 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 must live 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 be 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 more information, refer to Fact Sheet 1 - Eligibility to become a councillor. PDF (0.16 MB)

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

    The ECQ and returning officers cannot give eligibility advice. If you are in doubt of your eligibility, you should consult the relevant legislation or seek independent legal advice.

Anyone planning to contest a local government election (including sitting councillors) should notify the ECQ by announcing their candidacy via the Self Service Portal.

Once a candidate announces their candidacy via the Self-Service Portal, an account will also be established in the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS), so that the candidate 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.

Prior to nominating, all candidates (including sitting councillors) must complete mandatory training  conducted by the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (formerly DLGRMA).

The online training can be accessed via the 'So you want to be a councillor' page at: https://www.dlgrma.qld.gov.au/so-you-want-to-be-a-councillor.

Candidates must declare they have successfully completed the course on their official nomination form. It is recommended that candidates keep a copy of the mandatory training completion certificate, which they receive when they complete the course. The reference number on the certificate can be included on the nomination form as proof of completion.

Anyone who intends to contest a local government election must open a dedicated campaign bank account for all donations, gifts and loans they receive and electoral expenditure they incur. The dedicated account must be used for all campaign 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 of the group when nominating for the election.

During the 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.

Electoral 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.

Note: Any amounts remaining in the dedicated campaign account at the end of the election must either be kept in the account for a future election or be given to a charity or a political party of which the candidate was a member during their disclosure period. The amounts cannot be withdrawn for personal use (even if the amounts are made up of the candidate’s own funds).

Failure to comply with banking requirements carries a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units (valued at $13,345 as at 1 July 2020).

For more information, refer to Fact Sheet 3 - Campaign bank accounts and use of credit cards. PDF (0.15 MB)

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

For donations of $500 or more (which includes aggregated or cumulative amounts of $500 or more), relevant details of the gift or loan must be recorded and disclosed, 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. Additional information must also be recorded and disclosed if the donor is a corporation, unincorporated association, trust or registered industrial organisation.

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 2020). The ECQ may also issue other fines for non-compliance with record keeping requirements.

For more information, refer to Fact Sheet 4 - Record keeping requirements. PDF (0.14 MB)

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

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

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

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

* Refer to the ECQ Local Government Glossary (below) 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 registered 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, refer to the Prohibited Donors Scheme on the ECQ website or contact the Funding and Disclosure Unit by emailing fad@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 help to maintain the integrity of the election process.

To find out more about the disclosure obligations of election participants, refer to these fact sheets:

Candidates must ensure that during an election period, all election material printed, published, distributed or broadcast is authorised. Election material includes means anything able to, or intended to, influence an elector about voting at an election or affect the result of an election. This applies to materials distributed by candidates, a group of candidates, registered political parties or third parties.

Authorisation must state the name and street 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, refer to Fact Sheet 6 - Electoral advertising, authorisation and signage PDF (0.18 MB).

Candidate nominations for local government elections require:

  • that if you are not endorsed by a political party, you must get endorsements from six electors who live in the local government area (undivided council) or division or ward (divided council) – this includes candidates contesting as a member of a group of candidates
  • that if you are endorsed by a registered political party, you must be nominated by the Registered Officer of the party – then sign the party’s Consent and Declaration Form – this must be done before nominating
  • that if you are nominating as part of a group of candidates/team, you must provide the ECQ with the group’s name, the names of other candidates who are members of the group, the dedicated bank account details of the group, and the signed record of membership of the group
  • you to open a dedicated bank account (refer to item 5 above)
  • that you complete the mandatory training (refer to item 4 above)
  • you officially lodge your nomination (which will include your dedicated bank account details and a declaration of personal interests) with the ECQ via the Returning Officer before midday on the day nominations close
  • you pay a $250 nomination deposit (cash, electronic funds transfer, bank cheque, or BPoint)

You can access the nomination form:

  • through the ECQ Self Service portal, or
  • by downloading the form from the ECQ website [LINK], or
  • from the Returning Officer.

The Returning Officer is the ECQ’s representative in a local government area. Contact details for Returning Officers including office locations are published on the ECQ website following the Notice of Election.

Nomination forms filled out via the Self Service Portal must be printed, signed, and lodged with the Returning Officer, or at the ECQ head office, in person or by post.

For more information go to Fact Sheet 2 – Guide to nominating as a candidate for local government election

What happens to my nomination deposit?

After the election, nomination deposits are refunded to candidates who:

  • withdraw consent to the nomination – this must happen before midday on the day nominations close
  • are elected, or
  • receive more than 4 per cent of the formal first preference vote in their nominated area.
Groups of candidates

If you are intentionally coordinating group campaign activities with other candidates, you may be part of a group of candidates, and you must:

  • notify the ECQ before you conduct any group activities – you can notify the ECQ up to 12pm on the last day of nominations for a local government election
  • appoint an agent when notifying the ECQ
  • ensure the group’s disclosure and reporting obligations are met.

Group campaign activities may include:

  • using a common  platform   to promote candidates with the same political policies
  • using the same advertisements
  • using the same campaign slogans, brands, and images
  • using the same how-to-vote cards
  • having the same fundraising events
  • sharing gifts, loans, or resources for election campaigns.

To apply to be a group of candidates or to appoint an agent, complete the forms via the Self-Service portal or by downloading them from the ECQ website.

There is also a form to be completed if you are deregistering a group of candidates.

Are you a ‘group of candidates’ if endorsed by a registered political party?

No. Candidates endorsed by a registered political party are not considered part of a group of candidates.

What happens if a group of candidates does not register with the ECQ?

Candidates who intentionally coordinate group campaign activities without being registered with the ECQ may face financial penalties of up to 100 penalty units. The value of 100 penalty units is $13,785 as at 1 July 2021.

More information is in Fact Sheet 5 – Information for groups of candidates.

Disclosing gifts and loans

If a candidate or group of candidates receives a gift or gifts of $500 or more from a single donor during a candidate’s (or group’s) disclosure period, the candidate (or agent of a group) must make disclosures to the ECQ. The same rule applies if receiving a loan or loans of $500 or more.

The $500 threshold is cumulative, meaning it doesn’t matter if these are gifts or loans are in several small amounts, or one amount of $500 or more.

Key points:

  • Disclosures are made using the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS).
  • Disclosures must be made within seven business days, or within one day if the gift or loan is received within one week before election day.
  • The recipient of the gift also needs to give the donor a notice stating the donor must give a disclosure return to the ECQ about the gift or loan.
Disclosing electoral expenditure

If a candidate (or group of candidates) spends more than $500 in their disclosure period on electoral expenditure, each item of expenditure must be disclosed. Disclosures must be made within seven business days of the expenditure being incurred, or within one day if the expenditure is incurred within one week of election day.

What is the disclosure period?

The disclosure period for a candidate starts on the earliest of the following dates:

  • the day the candidate nominated for the election, or
  • the day the candidate announced or indicated an intention to stand as a candidate in the election, or
  • if the candidate has contested a local government election or by-election within the last five years – the day that is 30 days after election day for the earlier election.

The disclosure period ends 30 days after election day.

The disclosure period for groups of candidates starts 30 days after the previous local government quadrennial election and ends 30 days after election day.

When does a summary return need to be made?

A summary return by all candidates and groups of candidates must be made within 15 weeks after the election. The summary return must show the total amount spent on expenditure and total amount of gifts/loans received. Returns must be lodged even if there is nothing to disclose.

Disclosure information for donors and other third parties

Any person who spends $500 or more doing one or more of the following within a disclosure period, must disclose this to the ECQ:

  • making a gift/donation to a registered political party for a local government campaign
  • making a gift/donation to a local government candidate or group of candidates
  • incurring electoral expenditure
  • making a gift/donation to another person on the understanding it will be used for any of the above.

Disclosures are made using the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS).

Every donor must be aware of their obligations and ensure they fully comply with electoral laws.

What is the disclosure period for donors and other third parties?

The disclosure period for a donor or third party who has spent funds on a local government candidate or campaign, starts 30 days after the last local government quadrennial election, and ends 30 days after the current election.

Making separate disclosure returns

A separate disclosure return is needed for each gift or expenditure item.

Donors must lodge their disclosure returns with the ECQ within seven business days of making the gift. After a donor reaches the $500 threshold, every gift regardless of the value, must be disclosed to the ECQ within seven business days of being made.

When does a summary return need to be made for donors and other third parties?

A summary return must be made within 15 weeks of the election by all donors who made gifts or incurred electoral expenditure totalling $500 or more. The summary return must show the total amount spent on gifts and expenditure during the disclosure period.

For more information and examples of when a donor or third party may be required to give a disclosure, refer to:

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, refer to Fact Sheet 7 - Provision of electoral roll data to candidates PDF (0.16 MB).

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

For specific information about the requirements of HTV cards and lodgement of HTV cards with the ECQ, refer to Fact sheet 8 - How-to-vote cards PDF (0.49 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.

For more information, refer to Fact Sheet 9 - Offences and penalties for candidates and councillors PDF (0.13 MB).

Local Government Glossary

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 - or Self-Service 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 State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.

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 State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.

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 council-controlled roads as well as the timeframes in which they can be displayed.

Election summary disclosure return

All candidates and groups of candidates must complete an election summary disclosure return, containing details of all gifts, loans or expenditure, via the Electronic Disclosure System and lodge it with the ECQ 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 Fact Sheet 6 - 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 registered political party is not considered to be 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 2020).

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.

MORE INFORMATION

More detailed information about the requirements for candidates and groups of candidates for local government elections and by-elections can be found on the handbooks, fact sheets and forms page.

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.