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Your campaign strategy and how to get advice

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
  • coordinate timeframes for activities and media opportunities.

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 local government's local laws on advertising and signage for elections.

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

How-to-vote cards

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

  • are authorised for a political party or a candidate endorsed by a political party
  • 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 electoral commission no later than 5pm on the Friday that is at least seven days before the polling day for the election.

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

Your campaign bank account, funds and gifts

Keep your campaign funds separate

You, like all candidates, must operate an account with a financial institution to keep your election funding and costs separate from your other financial activities. You must open a separate bank account for this purpose. All the donation amounts you receive for the purposes of your electoral campaign, and all amounts you receive as loans, must be deposited into this account.

All payments you make during your election campaign, relating to the election, must be paid out of your campaign account. You, or your group of candidates, must take all reasonable steps to comply with the requirements of the campaign account.

Following the election, if money still remains in your campaign account you are allowed to keep that money to be used in future election campaigns. However, if you do not intend to use the money in a future election campaigns you must do one of the following two things:

  • if you, or in the case of a group of candidates, each member of the group, were members of a political party you may give the money to the political party; or
  • in all other cases, the money must be given to a registered charity.

There are penalties for not complying with sections 126–127 of the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, which outline the requirements for candidates to operate a dedicated account.

It is recommended you obtain legal advice when you set up your accounts and records to make sure you are fully aware of all the details of your responsibilities.

Disclose your election gifts

Win or lose, you must disclose all your electoral gifts and donations after the election. During the election campaign it is important to maintain a record of who is:

  • providing voluntary help
  • performing a service (e.g. printing)
  • providing gifts or loans.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland is required to maintain a real time election gift register on its website for candidates of Sstate and local government elections.

You (the candidate or your group of candidates), donors and third parties must disclose election gifts and loans worth more than $500 by providing a completed disclosure return form to the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

The disclosure date for a return for a gift or loan received by a candidate is either:

  • the seventh business day after the gift or loan is received; or
  • if the gift or loan is received during the 'relevant period', the seventh business day after the 'relevant period' ends.

The 'relevant period' for a candidate means the period starting on the day the candidate’s 'disclosure period' for the election starts and ending on the day before the candidate becomes a candidate in the election. This would apply, for example, where a former candidate (i.e. in an election within the previous five years) receives a gift or loan before the day their nomination for an election is certified by the returning officer; or a new candidate receives a gift or loan after announcing their candidature but before their nomination is certified by the returning officer.

The disclosure period for all candidates is specified in part 6, division 2 of the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

In addition, following the election a candidate is required within 15 weeks after polling day to give the Electoral Commissioner of Queensland a final electoral gift return of:

  • total value of all the gifts
  • number of donors who made the gifts
  • relevant details of all gifts and loans worth more than $500 in total.

The disclosure date for a return for a gift or loan received by a group of candidates is either:

  • the seventh business day after the gift or loan is received; or
  • if the gift or loan is received during the 'relevant period', the seventh business day after the 'relevant period' ends.

The 'relevant period' for the group means the period starting on the day the group’s 'disclosure period' for the election starts and ending on the day before the group gives a record of the membership of the group to the returning officer under section 41(2) of the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

In addition, following the election a group of candidates is required within 15 weeks after polling day to give the Electoral Commissioner of Queensland a final electoral gift return of:

  • total value of all the gifts
  • number of donors who made the gifts
  • relevant details of all gifts and loans worth more than $500 in total.

The disclosure date for a return for a gift received by a third party to enable expenditure for a political activity is the seventh business day after the gift is applied to the political activity.

The disclosure date for a return for expenditure for a political activity incurred by a third party is the seventh business day after the expenditure is incurred.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland provides detailed information and advice on these disclosure periods and the requirements for completion of returns.

For more information on the disclosure of election gift requirements, please visit the Electoral Commission of Queensland and refer to its Electoral Funding and Financial Disclosure (Local Government) Handbook and disclosure forms.

Refund of your nomination deposit

As soon as practicable after the election, your nomination deposit may be refunded. However not every candidate will have their deposit refunded. To receive the refund you must:

  • be elected; or
  • receive four per cent of optional-preferential votes of first-preference votes; or
  • receive four per cent of first-past-the-post votes of formal votes.

More information