Queensland Government

Check your eligibility

All candidates must meet the mandatory eligibility requirements as set out in the Local Government Act 2009, sections 152 and 153.

The information below is provided as a guide. If you are in any doubt on your eligibility to be a councillor or require additional information you should seek independent legal advice.

Answer the questions below to find out if you are eligible to nominate:

Note: an Australian citizen who holds dual citizenship with another country is eligible to be a councillor or mayor.

Nomination process

Once you have determined you are eligible to nominate for councillor or mayor you will have to nominate as a candidate. Candidates can nominate for either mayor or councillor - but not both.

The Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) manages the candidate nomination process. Factsheets and handbooks to provide information and assist candidates navigate the nomination process will be published on the ECQ website in late 2019. 

The Notice of Election will be published in newspapers, on social media and on the ECQ website in early 2020. The nomination period commences after the Notice of Election is issued and nominations are open for approximately two weeks. Nominations can be lodged with the returning officer, who will be the ECQ representative in your local government area or at the ECQ head office in Brisbane. Nominations must be lodged before midday on the last day of the nomination period.

If you are planning to nominate as a candidate, you should contact the ECQ as soon as possible to obtain the latest information about your obligations. You should also familiarise yourself with the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

You may need to discuss your intent to nominate with members of your family, your community and others well in advance of formal nomination.

Mandatory training

If you make the decision to nominate for election as a councillor or mayor in the 2020 local government election, it is mandatory to undertake the So you want to be a councillor? free training course with the department before submitting your nomination to the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

The cost

A $250 deposit must be paid at the time of nomination. The deposit can be paid by cash, cheque or electronic funds transfer. This deposit is refunded to candidates who are successfully elected or those who receive more than 4% of the vote. The Local Government Electoral Act 2011 provides the details your nomination and the process to follow.

Do you need party endorsement or sponsorship to be a councillor or mayor?

In Queensland, you can nominate as:

  • an individual
  • a member of a group of candidates
  • a member of a political party.

If you are nominating as an individual candidate you will need endorsement from six electors who live within your local government area (for undivided councils) or six electors who live within your division or ward of the local government area that you are contesting (for divided councils).

If you are nominating as a member of a group of candidates (i.e. not a political party) to contest the election as a team, your group must appoint an agent and provide to the returning officer all the relevant details of the group, and authorisation from each member of the group, as part of the nomination process for each member.

In Queensland, political parties can endorse candidates to contest local government elections. If you intend to run as a political party candidate, you will need to be endorsed and nominated by the registered agent of the registered political party.

Note: you can choose to stand for election as a councillor or as mayor - but not for both. Dual candidacy is not permitted.

For detailed information about these provisions, refer to the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

Who to contact to nominate as a candidate

The returning officer for your local government area is responsible for managing the nomination process and ensuring the proper conduct of the election. The locations and contact details for returning officers will be made available when the Notice of Election is published in early 2020. In the meantime, you can contact the ECQ for more information.

The election campaign

After nominating for the local government election, you are expected to conduct your campaign in a way that maintains the public's trust and confidence in the democratic election process. You are expected to adhere to the principles of section 4 of the Local Government Act 2009.

Whether you are running as an independent, with a group or a political party, you will need to develop a campaign strategy to:

  • manage the campaign process
  • plan and budget for costs
  • keep records of all expenses, and donations and gifts received
  • coordinate timeframes for activities and media opportunities.

Your campaign bank account, funds and gifts

As a candidate, you will be required to maintain a dedicated bank account for your campaign donations and expenses. Groups of candidates are also required to maintain a dedicated bank account for the group’s campaign donations and expenditure.

All donations and expenditure must be transacted via the dedicated campaign account and there are limitations on how funds remaining in the account are disbursed after the campaign has concluded.

It is important that you keep accurate records on all campaign donations and electoral expenditure. Note that credit cards cannot be used for electoral expenses. 

Election expenditure records will need to be recorded from 1 May 2019 and submitted to the Electoral Commission Queensland in your election summary return following the election.

You also need to keep records of gifts and donations during your 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.

Ban on political donations from property developers

Queensland law bans political donations from property developers and industry bodies which have property developers as the majority of their members. It is illegal to make or accept these prohibited donations. It is also against the law to solicit someone to donate on behalf of a prohibited donor.

Social media

It is important to follow best-practice guidelines when managing social media pages as part of your campaign.

Posts on social media containing election material must comply with the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 if they are posted during an election period.

This is the case regardless of whether you are posting on your personal or official social media account. Election material includes anything able to, or intended to, influence an elector about voting at an election, or affect the result of an election.

For further details, a social media guide (PDF, 2.3MB) to help candidates and sitting councillors in managing their social media pages has been created by the Office of the Independent Assessor and the Local Government Association of Queensland.

Dealing with the media

Dealing with the media and promoting your candidature are important aspects of your campaign. This may include, for example:

  • issuing media releases
  • attending public functions where the media is present
  • engaging in radio, television and print interviews
  • using advertising to promote yourself.

In promoting your candidature, it is important that you comply with the relevant local council’s laws on advertising and signage for elections.

For more information check with your local council about their laws on advertising.

How-to-vote cards

You should make sure that your how-to-vote cards:

  • state the name and address of the person who authorised the card
  • are in the approved format
  • are prepared well ahead of the election
  • are given to the returning officer at least seven days before you intend to distribute them (e.g. seven days before pre-polling begins).

For more information and advice on how-to-vote cards check with the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

More information

Contact the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) or visit their website for more information about the election process.

In the lead-up to the 2020 local government elections, the ECQ will publish a range of factsheets and handbooks to help candidates navigate the election process and to provide information about the responsibilities and reporting obligations of candidates in the periods before, during and after polling day.