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Under the Human Rights Act 2019, all people have the right to participate in democratic decision-making and run in local and state government elections if they are eligible.

However, your council may have election period policies for both councillors and council employees.

There are also requirements under legislation for councillors and council employees who contest state and federal elections.

Use of council resources

You must maintain a clear separation between your council role and campaigning activities.

Councillors and council employees should not use council-provided resources such as vehicles, phones, email accounts or printers for campaigning. This applies at any time, not just during the official election period.

Councillors – local government elections

Councillors are not required to resign or take leave during a local government election.

There are limits during the caretaker period on publishing election material and making major policy decisions.

If successful, you stop being a councillor immediately when the ECQ announces the result of the election to candidates.

Councillors – state elections

Councillors are not required to resign to contest a state election, but must take leave without pay during the election period:

  • Compulsory leave starts on the day the Electoral Commission of Queensland publishes the final list of candidates for the election (normally soon after the close of nominations). Councillors can seek to start a leave of absence earlier if they wish.
  • You must remain on leave until the full results of election have been declared, even if it is already clear that you have been unsuccessful in your electorate.

Councillors should advise the council meeting chairperson (normally the mayor) of their intention to take a leave of absence, and then seek approval from councillors at an ordinary council meeting.

If successful at the election, you are taken to have stopped being a councillor the day before election day.

Councillor vacancies

If a mayor or councillor is successful at an election or leaves the role for another reason, their vacant council position is filled:

  • in the first 12 months of the term: by appointing the election runner up (except for Brisbane City Council who hold a by-election). If there is no runner up, then a by-election is held
  • in the middle period: by holding a by-election
  • in the last 12 months of the council term: by appointment by other councillors.

Council employees – local government elections

Council employees are not required by legislation to resign or take leave to contest local government elections. However, taking leave is recommended, especially during the official election period (i.e. when the ECQ has notified the election date and opened nominations).

However, your council may also have policies requiring you to take election leave.

Employees have a right to take up to two months leave either as paid leave (e.g. accrued annual leave) or unpaid leave.

If successful at the election, you are taken to have stopped being a local government employee the day before you take your declaration of office.

Council employees – state elections

Council employees are not required to resign to contest a state election, but must take leave (paid or unpaid) during the election period:

  • Compulsory leave starts on the day the Electoral Commission of Queensland publishes the final list of candidates for the election (normally soon after the close of nominations). You can seek to start leave earlier if you wish.
  • You must remain on leave until the ECQ has declared the winning candidate in your electorate.

If successful at the election, you are deemed to have stopped being a local government employee the day before election day.

Federal elections

Information about the eligibility of councillors, council employees and state government employees to nominate for a federal election is available on the Australian Electoral Commission website.

State and federal government employees

State and federal government employees are not required by legislation to resign or take leave to contest a Queensland local government election.

You can find information about running for local, state or federal elections on the Queensland Government website or Australian Public Service Commission website.

More information

For more information, contact your nearest regional office of the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs or the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

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