State government election participants

State election participants

This page is designed to help identify your role in the election.

Under section 197A of the Electoral Act 1992, the meaning of a ‘participant’ in an election means:

  1. a candidate in the election
  1. a registered political party
  1. a registered third party for the election, or
  1. a third party that is not registered for the election but incurs electoral expenditure for the election.

If your only role in this election is to vote, please return to the homepage.

If you already know your role in the upcoming election, select the relevant button below.  Or you can follow the ‘Self-assessment: Who am I?’ link.

This link is designed to help you identify your role in the election.


Election participants


Image representing registered political parties

Registered political parties

Political parties must meet a range of requirements to be registered in Queensland. Registered political parties must adhere to regulations and reporting obligations in relation to gifts, loans and expenditure incurred on electoral campaigns. The ECQ publishes the Queensland register of political parties PDF (0.28 MB).  

Associated entities of registered political parties also have a range of obligations under the Electoral Act 1992.

Handbook 3 - Election and Disclosure Obligations for Registered Political Parties and Associated Entities for State elections PDF (0.61 MB)

This section explains the process and responsibilities associated with registered political parties:

  • Registration
  • Appointing or changing political party agents
  • Notification of state campaign bank account
  • Receiving gifts and loans
  • Incurring electoral expenditure
  • Preselection and Endorsement of a candidate
  • Nomination of candidate
  • Electoral advertising
  • Lodging election summary returns
  • Lodging periodic returns
  • Claiming election funding

Registered political parties


Image representing a candidate

Candidates

A candidate in a State election or by-election can be:

  • endorsed by a registered political party, or
  • can contest the election as an independent candidate, if nominated by six electors who are enrolled in the electoral district.

A person will be a candidate for a State election if they are:

  • an individual who has announced, or otherwise publicly indicated, their intention to be a candidate in the election, or
  • an individual who has otherwise indicated their intention to be a candidate in the election by accepting a gift for an electoral purpose of incurring electoral expenditure towards their campaign.

Handbook 1 - Guide for Candidates for State election PDF (0.93 MB)

This section explains the process and responsibilities associated with candidates:

  • Nomination of a candidate
  • Appointing or changing agents
  • Notification of state campaign bank account
  • Receiving gifts and loans
  • Incurring electoral expenditure
  • Electoral advertising
  • Lodging election summary return
  • Claiming election funding

Candidates


Image representing third parties

Third parties/ Donors

A third party can be an individual or an entity, based in or outside Queensland, who:

  • makes donations or incurs electoral expenditure in support of candidates or political parties contesting a Queensland State election, or
  • enables another third party to support an election campaign.

All third parties have disclosure obligations. Third parties who incur $6,000 or more in electoral expenditure are required to formally register with the ECQ and maintain a dedicated State campaign bank account.

An unregistered third party is an individual or entity that has incurred electoral expenditure for a State election but has not formally registered with the ECQ.  Unregistered third parties do not have an obligation to register with the ECQ until they incur $6000 (cumulative total) in electoral expenditure towards a State election during the capped expenditure period.

For the 2020 State general election, the capped expenditure period is 1 August – 31 October 2020.

Handbook 4 - Election and Disclosure Obligations for Third Parties and Donors for State elections
PDF (0.49 MB)

This section explains the process and responsibilities associated with third parties:

  • Registration
  • Appointing or changing agents
  • Notification of state campaign bank account
  • Disclosing gifts and loans
  • Incurring electoral expenditure
  • Electoral advertising
  • Lodging election summary return
  • Cancelling the registration of a third party

Third party self assessment tool

Third parties/ Donors


Associated entities icon

Associated entities

An associated entity of a registered political party is an entity which is:

  • controlled by a registered political party or a group of endorsed candidates, or
  • operates wholly, or to a significant extent, for the benefit or dominant purpose of promoting the party in elections, or
  • promotes a group of endorsed candidates of a political party in an election. ​

An associated entity of a candidate an entity which is:

  • controlled by a candidate in relation to the election, or
  • operates wholly, or to a significant extent, for the benefit of the candidate in relation to the election, or
  • operates for the dominant purpose of promoting the candidate in the election.

Handbook 3 - Election and Disclosure Obligations for Registered Political Parties and Associated Entities for State elections
PDF (0.61 MB)

This section explains the process and responsibilities associated with associated entities:

  • Receiving gifts and loans
  • Incurring electoral expenditure
  • Lodging election summary return
  • Lodging periodic returns

Associated entities


Broadcasters and Publisher icon

Broadcasters/ Publishers

Broadcasters and publishers are required to lodge an election summary return with the ECQ after a State election if they have broadcast or published political advertisements relating to an election during the election’s capped expenditure period. This applies to broadcasters and publishers located both in and outside Queensland.

Handbook 5 - Election and Disclosure Obligations for Broadcasters and Publishers for State elections
PDF (0.3 MB)

Broadcasters/ Publishers


Note:  All records relating to an election campaign must be kept for five years after the day that the record is made and are subject to audit procedures and compliance activities conducted by the ECQ. There are substantial penalties for not complying with record keeping responsibilities and obligations. It is important to keep records of all political donations of gifts, loans, or other property, for five years after any property disposal.  Additional information can be obtained in the links below. ​

Links to further information:

FAQs

Access to ECQ system via QGov

It is recommended that, when registering via QGov, a personal email address is used.

State campaign accounts

  • Independent candidates
  • Candidates who are endorsed by a registered political party
  • Registered political parties
  • Registered third parties and  third parties who incur more than $6,000 in electoral expenditure and are required to register but have not yet registered.

Refer to Fact sheet 1 - State campaign bank accounts PDF (0.16 MB).

There are no specific requirements for the type of bank account an election participant uses as their State campaign account; however, the participant must be able to pay for all electoral expenditure incurred for the election directly out of their State campaign account.

There is also no requirement for the bank account to have a specific name; however, the ECQ recommends that election participants choose a name for the account that enables them to readily distinguish it as their State campaign account.

The account name, BSB and account number must be provided to the ECQ.

Refer to Fact sheet 1 - State campaign bank accounts PDF (0.16 MB).

There is no stipulation that an election participant must open a new bank account for an election, only that it is separate and used to pay for any electoral expenditure incurred by, or for, that participant.

The ECQ does recommend, however, that election participants open a new account to be used as their State campaign account, as this will make record keeping and reporting easier for the participant.

The account must be used exclusively for the election and must not be used for another purpose.

The State campaign account must be dedicated for transactions related to State elections.

If you were a candidate for a local government election and you have funds remaining in your dedicated bank account from the local government election, you cannot use the account as your State campaign account. Any funds remaining in your local government account can only be used for the conduct of another local government election. Alternatively, they may be paid to a registered charity.

Each participant - i.e. candidates, registered political parties and registered third parties - in a State election must have a separate State campaign bank account. Each endorsed candidate in an electoral district must have their own account; and the party must have their own account (which can be used throughout the State).  A State campaign bank account does not need to be opened in a specific name; it must be separate and only used for campaign expenditure for the participant so that accurate and appropriate records of the transactions can be made.

Under current law, there are no regulations about what can be deposited into an election participant’s State campaign account, other than those relating to prohibited political donations.

All electoral expenditure incurred by, or for, an election participant must be paid out of the participant’s State campaign account.

Election participants must take all reasonable steps to ensure that all electoral expenditure incurred for the election is paid out of their dedicated account.

If an election participant accidentally pays for electoral expenditure using a bank account other than their State campaign account, they can reimburse the amount from their State campaign account within six weeks after the amount was paid.

However, this process of reimbursement should not be used as a standard practice for incurring electoral expenditure, as it is inconsistent with the intent of the legislation, which is to ensure full transparency of expenditure for the election.

Candidates may self-fund their own campaigns. These amounts do not have to be disclosed as gifts. This includes amounts transferred from accounts held jointly with a spouse, so long as the funds were not provided to the candidate or their spouse by a prohibited donor.

Under current laws, there are no regulations about what can be done with any remaining funds in a participant’s State campaign account after an election. However, the law does require that the State campaign account cannot be closed until all disclosure and reporting obligations related to the election have been fulfilled.

Third party registration

Only third parties that incur more than $6,000 in electoral expenditure during the capped expenditure period for an election are required to register with the ECQ.

Expenditure that is incurred by a third party for the dominant purpose of raising awareness about an issue of public policy is not considered to be electoral expenditure. As such, if this is the only expenditure being incurred by a third party for the election, the third party would not need to register with the ECQ.

Refer to Fact sheet 5 - Definition of electoral expenditure PDF (0.23 MB).

Only third parties that incur more than $6,000 in electoral expenditure during the capped expenditure period for an election are required to register with the ECQ.

A monetary gift or donation made to a candidate or political party is not considered to be electoral expenditure.  However, if a third party makes a gift-in-kind, or ‘gifts’ electoral expenditure, to a candidate or registered political party in an election (e.g. a company prints a candidate’s how-to-vote cards for free, or for less than the commercial rate), the third party may need to register with the ECQ.

Refer to Fact sheet 5 - Definition of electoral expenditure PDF (0.23 MB) and Fact sheet 11 - Information for third parties PDF (0.18 MB) for more information.

Registration as a third party can be completed via the ECQ’s Self Service Portal.

Refer to Fact sheet 12 - Third party registration process PDF (0.17 MB).

Donations

Election participants can accept donations for the elections unless they are:

  • political donations from a prohibited donor;
  • anonymous gifts; or
  • gifts of foreign property.

A prohibited donor means a property developer, a close associate of a property developer, or an industry representative organisation with property developers as the majority of members.

Refer to the Prohibited donors scheme information on the ECQ website.

Donation caps do not come into effect until 1 July 2022. Donation caps do not apply for the 2020 State general election.

Refer to Fact sheet 22 - Commencement of legislative changes in 2022 PDF (0.19 MB).

Donations of $1,000 or more received from the same person or entity, either cumulatively or as a lump sum, need to be disclosed in a return lodged with the ECQ. The return must be lodged in real-time in the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS).

Disclosure in real-time means:

  • normally - within 7 business days of receipt,
  • if the donation was received within 7 days of election day - within 24 hours of receipt.

If you are a candidate, you will need to disclose the total amount of all donations received, including amounts less than $1,000, in your election summary return (as well as your electoral expenditure), which must be lodged with the ECQ within 15 weeks after election day.

It is important that you keep complete and accurate records of all donations received to ensure you meet your disclosure and reporting obligations for the election.

Donors who make donations of $1,000 or more, either cumulatively or as a lump sum, to a candidate or registered political party in an election must disclose the donation in a return lodged in the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS).

The return must be lodged within 7 business days after the donation was made.

The recipient of the donation is also required to disclose the donation to the ECQ.

Donations should be disclosed via the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS). If a donor is unable to access the EDS, they should contact fad@ecq.qld.gov.au for advice.

Election signs

There are no restrictions under the Electoral Act 1992 around when a person can start campaigning for a State election. However, during an election period (beginning on the day after the writ is issued and ending at 6pm on polling day) certain rules apply to the publication and distribution of election matter. There are also rules that apply to the display of election signs during polling hours (under sections 185A to 185H of the Electoral Act).

Refer to Fact sheet 16 - Electoral advertising and authorisation of election material PDF (0.22 MB) and Fact sheet 17 - Election signage PDF (0.52 MB) for further information.

In addition to the signage laws under the Electoral Act, other agencies and local councils regulate the display of signs and advertising. It is recommended that you also familiarise yourself with the election advertising and signage requirements of:

Any advertisement, handbill, pamphlet, or notice containing election matter that is printed, published, distributed, or broadcast during the election period for an election must state the name and address of the person who authorised the material.

Election matter means anything able to, or intended to, influence an elector in relation to voting at an election or affect the result of an election.

The election period starts on the day after the writ for the election is issued and ends at 6pm on election day.

The person who authorises the election material must be able to be contacted, in person or by post, at the address stated in the authorisation. The address must be a physical address and cannot be a post office box.

Refer to Fact sheet 16 - Electoral advertising and authorisation of election material PDF (0.22 MB).

Election material only needs to be authorised during the election period for the election.

The election period starts on the day after the writ for the election is issued and ends at 6pm on election day.

The ECQ recommends, however, that any election material distributed prior to the election period is still authorised in case such material continues to be in circulation when the writ is issued.

Refer to Fact sheet 16 - Electoral advertising and authorisation of election material PDF (0.22 MB).

Election material can be authorised by any person. A candidate may authorise their own material, or they may ask another person to authorise it on their behalf.

The person who authorises the material must be able to be contacted, in person or by post, at the address stated in the authorisation. The address must be a physical address and cannot be a post office box.

Social media profiles or pages must carry an authorisation if they are used to publish election matter during the election period.

The authorisation should be placed in a prominent position on the page, for example, for a Facebook page set up for an election campaign, the authorisation should be stated clearly in the top banner, on the ‘About’ page (or equivalent), or on each social media post.  Any videos, images or other material that can be downloaded or distributed from the page should also include the same authorisation directly on those items.

Refer to Fact sheet 16 - Electoral advertising and authorisation of election material PDF (0.22 MB).

Under the Electoral Act 1992, the ECQ is required to make certain information available as recorded on the electoral roll. This does not include an elector's email or telephone contact details.

A candidate and/or registered political party may compile their own database of telephone numbers and email addresses through their own interaction with electors, or they may obtain them through a third party.

The ECQ has no control over the contact each candidate and/or political party has directly with electors.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has further information about political telemarketing and spam on their website: https://www.acma.gov.au/spam-and-telemarketing.

The ECQ only has jurisdiction over the content of election material and the display of election signage at early voting centres and election day polling places.

Complaints about these matters should be made in writing by email to complaints@ecq.qld.gov.au or by post to GPO Box 1393, Brisbane QLD 4001.

The ECQ has limited investigatory powers with respect to certain offences. On receipt of a complaint relating to misleading material, the ECQ may review the matter and take compliance action or may refer you to the Queensland Police Service or the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission.

For complaints about the display of election signage on State-controlled roads, please contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

For complaints about the display of election signage on local roads, please contact your local council.

Electoral expenditure

The maximum amount that election participants may incur in electoral expenditure during the capped expenditure period:

Capped expenditure period =

For the 2020 State General Election, the capped expenditure period is 1 August until 6pm on 31 October 2020.

Normally, the capped expenditure period for a State general election runs from the day after the last Saturday in March until 6pm on election day.

An independent candidate can spend up to:

$87,000 in total for an election campaign.

A candidate endorsed by a registered political party can spend up to:

$58,000 in total for their election campaign.

This is in addition to the amount that their party may spend on their campaign.

If there are multiple endorsed candidates contesting the same electoral district in the general election, the $58,000 cap total is divided equally by the number of endorsed candidates.

A registered political party can spend up to:

$92,000 per electoral district.

Total expenditure is the number of electoral districts where they have endorsed candidates multiplied by $92,000.

If they endorse more than one candidate in an electoral district, the $92,000 is divided equally by the number of candidates.

An associated entity can spend up to:

Electoral expenditure incurred for an election by an associated entity of a registered political party is taken to have been incurred by the party, so expenditure is counted under the party’s total cap amount.

A third party can spend up to:

$87,000 per electoral district for a general election.

Up to $1 million for the election in total.

  • Amounts over these caps can be recovered by the ECQ from the relevant candidate or political party.
  • Cap amounts are to be adjusted for CPI 30 days after each general election.

For more information, refer to:

Participants are required to pay for all electoral expenditure directly out of their State campaign account.

As such, the ECQ recommends that participants to use a debit card that is linked directly to their State campaign account to pay for any electoral expenditure, rather than a credit card, to ensure they are complying with the legislated dedicated bank account requirements.

All electoral expenditure incurred by, or for, an election participant must be paid out of the participant’s State campaign account.

If your business incurs electoral expenditure towards your campaign or on your behalf, it may meet the definition of a ‘gift’ and ‘gifted electoral expenditure’ and will need to be disclosed to the ECQ as such. Depending on the amounts involved, the business may be required to register with the ECQ as a third party, open a separate dedicated State campaign account and disclose the expenditure in real-time and also in an election summary disclosure return.

Refer to: Fact sheet 5 - Definition of electoral expenditure PDF (0.23 MB) and Fact sheet 11 - Information for third parties PDF (0.18 MB) for more information.

Yes, a registered political party can incur electoral expenditure on behalf of their candidates. Depending on the circumstances, this may be considered ‘gifted electoral expenditure’. Parties and candidates will need to ensure they review their circumstances and keep accurate records to ensure the expenditure is properly attributed to the correct electoral participant.

Refer to Fact sheet 5 - Definition of electoral expenditure. PDF (0.23 MB)

Only items which meet the specific definition of electoral expenditure under the Electoral Act 1992 AND are incurred during the capped expenditure period count towards the expenditure cap.

The capped expenditure period for the 2020 State general election commences on 1 August 2020 and ends at 6pm on election day (31 October 2020).

Refer to Fact sheet 5 - Definition of electoral expenditure PDF (0.23 MB) for more detail about what counts as electoral expenditure.

All election participants must disclose all electoral expenditure incurred for the election in an election summary return which is to be lodged with the ECQ within 15 weeks after election day.

Refer to Fact sheet 6 - Disclosure of electoral expenditure PDF (0.17 MB).

For the 2020 State General Election, the capped expenditure period commences on 1 August 2020 and continues until 6pm on 31 October 2020 (election day).

In accordance with transitional provisions in section 444 of the Act, any goods which are first used for a campaign purpose during the capped expenditure period will count towards the cap, unless the contract for the supply of goods was entered into before 17 June 2020.

Election funding claims

A candidate is only eligible to receive election funding if they receive at least 6% of the total number of formal first preference votes made in the election.

A registered political party is only eligible to receive election funding for its candidates who receive at least 6% of the total number of formal first preference votes made in the election.

Refer to Fact sheet 20 - Election funding claims PDF (0.17 MB) for further information about eligibility and election funding claim rates.

Eligible candidates or registered political parties can apply for reimbursement of expenditure that they incurred for the purposes of a campaign for the election.

A list of items that can and cannot be claimed is set out in Fact sheet 20 - Election funding claims PDF (0.17 MB). Any items not included in this list will need to be assessed by the ECQ on a case-by-case basis at the time the claim is lodged.

Each item of electoral expenditure referred to in a claim must be accompanied by supporting documentation.

Tax invoices must be dated and show the recipient details and a description of the goods or services provided. Where a claim is for expenditure incurred on the production, distribution or publishing/broadcasting of advertisements and election material (e.g. newspaper advertisements, flyers and pamphlets), a copy of the advertisement or election material must be included with the claim.

All supporting documentation must be legible and clearly specify which item of expenditure it refers to. Claims for items where there is no clear link or explanation of how an item related to the election will not be paid.