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On 18 June 2020 the Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2020 was passed by the Queensland Legislative Assembly, with changes coming into effect on 12 October. Read more about the rolling reform agenda for the local government sector.

To ensure accountability and transparency, new legislation which will commence in October 2020 introduces requirements for councils that wish to employ ‘councillor advisors’ and ‘councillor administrative support staff’ to help councillors complete their duties. Only certain councils prescribed by Regulation will be able to appoint councillor advisors.

There will also be obligations for political advisors and administrative support staff themselves.

Summary of council employee types

CEO Council employees Administration support Councillor advisor
  • Appointed by council
  • Reports to mayor (mayor cannot give directions inconsistent with council decisions)
  • Discipline matters managed by council
  • Appointed by CEO
  • Reports to CEO and follow CEO directions
  • Discipline matters managed by CEO
  • Appointed by CEO
  • Reports to CEO
  • Councillor can direct day-to-day administrative tasks in accordance with any guidelines made by CEO
  • Discipline matters managed by CEO
  • Only at larger councils
  • Appointed by CEO based on councillor nomination
  • Reports to councillor
  • Can be directed by councillor to undertake any duties except campaigning
  • Discipline matters managed by CEO

Councillor advisors

Only 15 councils will be permitted under local government regulations to employ councillors advisors. This includes the larger category 4-8 councils (as prescribed by the Local Government Remuneration Commission) and Brisbane City Council.

Requirements for councils will include the following:

  • Must vote to pass a resolution to create councillor advisor positions (except Brisbane City Council)
  • Appoint advisor by contract, at the discretion of councillors and only until the councillor’s term ends, unless re-appointed by a new councillor
  • Must report the costs of councillor advisors to the community, for example through the council’s annual report

Requirements for advisors will include the following:

  • Must submit registers of interests and keep them up to date
  • Must follow a new Code of conduct for councillor advisors
  • Must comply with the local government principles and can be found guilty of integrity offences

Administrative support staff

Some councillors have support staff to help with administration tasks such as managing their calendar and appointments, answering phone calls and emails, filing, or helping prepare for council or community meetings.

From October 2020, councillors will only able to direct administration support staff strictly in accordance with guidelines developed by their council as required by the new legislation. This generally will mean that administrative support staff cannot help with the councillor’s re-election or other ‘campaigning’ tasks.

Difference between advisors and support staff

Councillor administrative support staff Councillor advisors (larger councils only as prescribed by regulation)
  • Can be directed by mayor or councillor to complete administration tasks only (e.g. filing, phone, email, resident enquiries), once the CEO has adopted guidelines about administrative support staff
  • Can be given directions by mayor or councillor for day-to-day tasks in accordance with council’s guidelines but report to the CEO or council manager
  • Can give directions to other administrative support staff, for example if appointed by the CEO as an office manager
  • Employed as a regular council employee, appointed by the CEO
  • Can be directed by mayor or councillor to complete any tasks except political campaigning (e.g. administration support, liaising with community and stakeholders, research, media and social media activities, events, managing correspondence)
  • Reports to the mayor or councillor
  • Cannot give directions to administrative support staff (i.e. cannot function as an office manager) but can give directions to other advisors
  • Cannot give directions to other council employees
  • Mayors and councillors are accountable under the Code of conduct for councillors in Queensland for ensuring advisors are aware of the requirements of the code of conduct for advisors
  • Employed by council on contract, nominated by mayor or councillor

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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).

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