Queensland proposes candidate training and donation disclosures

The Queensland Government has proposed a series of reforms addressing local government candidate training and real time donation disclosure.

State Local Government Minister, Stirling Hinchliffe, said that the proposed reforms under the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 would strengthen transparency and introduce accountability in all Queensland Councils.

“Mandatory training was one of a number of recommendations from the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra Report,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“It requires all candidates at Local Government elections, including sitting Councillors, to undertake training as a condition of their nomination.

“This is about ensuring candidates having a strong understanding of their obligations, both during an election campaign and as a councillor once elected."

The Bill also mandates full preferential voting for mayoral and single councillor elections, to be effective for the 2020 local government election.

“This aligns voting methodologies with State and Federal elections and helps to avoid voter confusion,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

Other proposed reforms include:

  • requiring candidates to disclose particular interests as part of their nomination as a candidate, including membership of a political party;

  • prohibiting candidates and groups of candidates from using credit cards to pay for campaign expenses;

  • requiring candidates to provide details about dedicated campaign bank account when nominating;

  • providing more certainty and clarity to councillors by refining the processes to manage a conflict of interest - including introducing prescribed conflicts of interest;

  • requiring further information around declaring gifts and donations;

  • removing powers of Mayors in relation to budgets, the appointment of senior executive employees, and the issuing of directions to the chief executive officer and senior executive employees; and

  • introducing new requirements relating to councillors’ registers of interests to align with the requirements applying to State MPs.

The proposed reforms come a week after the Queensland government dismissed the entire Logan City Council following charges of corruption.

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