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The Queensland Government is pursuing a rolling reform agenda in the local government sector.

On 16 October 2019 Parliament passed the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019.

Background

The Crime and Corruption Commission’s Belcarra report found that good government requires elections to be held on a level playing field, with equal participation available to all.

The report also stressed the need for complete transparency about who candidates are, how their campaigns are funded, their interests and affiliations, and their relationship with other candidates.

The Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs released an information paper (PDF, 357KB) in March 2019 outlining proposed legislation amendments. Following consultation with mayors, councillors and stakeholders, the department proposed key changes to the reforms (PDF, 161KB) prior to legislation being drafted. Regulation changes (PDF, 267KB) were also proposed to reflect recommendations and suggestions received from the Queensland Audit Office, Queensland Law Society, Ombudsman and the Local Government Association of Queensland.

Important notes for candidates

It is compulsory for all candidates to complete So you want to be a councillor? training. This includes any candidates who are currently, or have previously been, a councillor or mayor. You can also book a face-to-face training session.

Election candidates for 2020 now need to keep records of all election expenditure from 1 May 2019, in addition to keeping records of gifts and donations during the disclosure period.

If you have previously been a candidate for a local government election within the past five years, your disclosure period starts 30 days after your last election or by-election. If you are a first-time candidate, your disclosure period starts on the day you first publicly announce you are intending to be a candidate. The disclosure period for all candidates ends 30 days after the election.

Details of the changes

Stage 2 reforms passed by Parliament include:

  • mandatory training for election candidates
  • transparent candidate bank accounts and financial returns
  • new restrictions on decisions during election caretaker period
  • new requirements for candidates in groups
  • Right to Information laws to cover Brisbane City Council civic cabinet meetings (in effect 18 November 2019)
  • expanded councillor rights to access council information (in effect 18 November 2019)
  • clarified responsibilities for councillors in preparing budgets (in effect 18 November 2019)
  • changes to mayoral powers to direct CEOs and senior executive officers (in effect 18 November 2019)
  • changes to the appointment of senior executive officers (in effect 18 November 2019)
  • improved real-time donation disclosures (in effect 20 January 2020)
  • improved disclosures of real donation and gift sources (in effect 20 January 2020)
  • real-time expenditure disclosures (in effect 20 January 2020)
  • Office of Independent Assessor to investigate councillor conduct complaints for Brisbane City Council (in effect 30 March 2020).

Future regulatory amendments under consideration:

  • limits on the size of councillor ‘discretionary’ funds and new requirement to publicise spending (proposed to take effect from 30 March 2020)
  • ban on new decisions to use discretionary funds from 1 January in election years.

Podcast

Listen to the podcast on the latest legislation changes.

Information Paper

Read the information paper (PDF, 192KB) with a detailed summary of the new stage 2 legislated requirements.

You can also download the Local government reform – stage 2 fact sheet (PDF, 411KB)

Amended legislation

The updated Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 and Explanatory Notes will soon be available on the Queensland legislation website.

Resources and fact sheets

View resources and fact sheets incorporating changes made as part of stage 2 reforms.

Webinars

View previous webcasts featuring information, feedback and questions used for consultation on the phase 2 reforms.

Frequently asked questions

View FAQs used for consultation on the stage 2 reforms.

Dedicated hotline

Ph: 07 3452 6747.
The hotline is available between the hours of 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. The department will endeavour to respond to any questions within 48 hours (business days).

Email

For more information or to provide feedback on the reforms, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..