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During consultation for the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, FAQs were prepared to provide more details on the proposed local government rolling reforms.

Questions and answers have been categorised for easier reference:

Local government reform

Why is it proposed to place greater scrutiny on the allocation and use of councillor discretionary funds?

Why has it taken more than 12 months after the introduction of the Local Government Councillor Complaints and other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 to act on the Brisbane City Council complaints framework?

The Office of the Independent Assessor already seems to have high number of complaints. How could it possibly cope with even more complaints?

Why has Brisbane City Council had RTI exemptions?

Why do Councillors need more access to information?

Why should the powers of Mayors be reduced?

Who will prepare the 2019–20 council budgets?

Why should candidates publish details of political affiliations?

Why should training be mandatory for all candidates for Local Government elections?

Why are the proposed arrangements for filling Councillor vacancies different for divided and un-divided Councils?

Why are the arrangements for postal voting proposed to be changed?

Local Government reforms—Electoral reforms webinar questions

Will the Department be circulating the draft Bill to Councils?

What consultation has the Department undertaken on the proposed Local Government reforms?

Will the Department be doing more work to ensure Councillors are aware of the proposed reforms?

Who will be conducting the mandatory candidate training and what will that training look like?

Will the cost of mandatory candidate training be borne by Councils?

Do sitting Councillors have to undertake mandatory candidate training?

Isn’t mandatory candidate training better aimed at sitting Councillors, rather than candidates?

Will mandatory training be required prior to nomination?

Many people have already indicated their intention to run as candidates, won’t mandatory candidate training be too late for these people?

Will mandatory candidate training have a pass/fail element?

Will mandatory candidate training include information on all issues a person would face in the role of Councillor?

Does the Department believe that the proposed changes will give rise to party politics in the Local Government sector?

What role will the Government play in determining which Councils are able to use full postal voting?

Is there an obligation on Councils to consult with their community before applying for a full postal ballot?

Will candidates have to fill out a Register of Interest? If yes, what will this Register look like?

For a candidate’s Register of Interest, is there a time limit for what political party membership must be included? For example, it is just if you are a member of a political party at the time of nomination?

If a candidate is a preferred supplier for a Council but has not actually carried out any work for that Council, does the candidate have to include this information on their Register of Interest?

When does a candidate have to complete their Register of Interest?

When do groups have to be registered?

If a candidate has the same policy position as another candidate, are these candidates a group?

What are group like behaviours?

Will candidates still be able to have how-to-vote cards?

Will Councils be able to make decisions about development applications during the Caretaker Period before the election?

Local Government reforms—Electoral Finance reforms webinar questions

Will a candidate be able to use a credit card for electoral expenditure?

If I am a candidate and am part of a political party, is it my obligation as a candidate to make the required disclosures and declarations to the Electoral Commission of Queensland or is it the obligation of the political party who has endorsed me?

Will it be an integrity offence to lodge an electoral return that is inaccurate, false, misleading or deceptive?

Why is it proposed that in the last 7 days of the election campaign, candidates must disclose their expenditure within 24 hours of that expenditure?

Will the Electoral Commission of Queensland be responsible for publishing the information about gifts received by candidates?

Will there be an App developed to facilitate the real time disclosure requirements for candidates?

The proposed reforms include the real time disclosure of electoral donations and expenditure ($500 minimum) by candidates, groups of candidates and third parties. Will the $500 threshold apply to cumulative donations and expenditure as well as one-off receipts and payments of that amount?

Local Government reforms—other reform webinar questions

Under the proposed reforms, what changes are being made to Councillor discretionary funds?

Why is the State Government limiting the amount of money available under Councillor discretionary funds when this money is used for community purposes?

Did the Department consider removing the concept of Councillor discretionary funds and instead having all expenditure of ratepayers’ money being allocated for expenditure through the Council budget?

Will the changes to Councillor discretionary funds be retrospective?

Should Councils be factoring in the new cap for Councillor discretionary funds when preparing their 2019–2020 budgets?

What happens in the case of a Councillor who uses their discretionary funds to fund an Australia Day event and that event will now fall within the proposed blackout period before a Local Government election?

For larger Councils, how will the proposed reforms deal with the issue that Councillor discretionary funds are used to provide funding to a very large number of organisations and people in the community?

In cases where the amount of money available for distribution via Councillor discretionary funds will be reduced due to the cap, what can be done for those community organisations that rely on discretionary funds?

In relation to the proposed changes to Mayoral powers, will there be any transparency provisions introduced around how a Mayor can direct the Chief Executive Officer?

What happens if other Councillors disagree with a Mayoral direction to the Chief Executive Officer?

Will the proposed reforms place a limit on the Mayor and Councillors participating in the recruitment of senior Council staff?

Is a Mayor able to use their direction power to direct a Chief Executive Officer to appoint a particular candidate to a Council role?

The Department’s Information Paper on the proposed reforms refers to some changes being made by Regulation. Can you provide some detail?

Previous questions archive

Questions on the below topics no longer apply to the legislation as passed by Parliament following amendments in response to feedback from the community and stakeholders.

Why is it proposed to introduce compulsory preferential voting?

What would my ballot paper look like at the next local government election?

Do these changes affect how my vote is counted?

Why are ratepayers now paying for candidates to run a campaign?

Why are further changes proposed to the conflict of interest provisions in the legislation?

Why is it in the public interest to limit how much candidates spend on their campaigns?

Why is it proposed to require Council Committees to keep and publish minutes?

What will Councillors have to do differently to maintain their registers of interests?

Why should candidates be able to nominate for both Mayoral and Councillor elections?

If compulsory preferential voting is introduced, will voters in an undivided Council area be required to mark every box on the ballot paper? For example, if there are 40 candidates, will voters need to number one through to 40?

If a voter does not mark every box on the ballot paper but their intention is clear, will their vote be counted?

Will there be, ‘above the line’ voting at Local Government elections?

Are Mayoral elections staying as optional preferential voting or are these changing to compulsory preferential voting?

Will the Mayoral vote count remain as first past the post?

Does the Department believe that the proposed changes to the voting system will give rise to an increase in informal votes?

Shouldn’t a Councillor be able to decide about their own conflict of interest? That is, a Councillor should decide whether they should stay in the meeting or not without the other Councillors having to being involved in that decision?

What does the Department mean by ‘Abolishing the concept of Ordinary Business’?

What are the proposed reforms in relation to the issue of a majority of Councillors having conflicts of interest?

There have been examples of Councils losing their meeting quorum due to conflicts of interest and making the decision to delegate the matter to the Chief Executive Officer. Why should an unelected official be making decisions on behalf of residents?

If all Councillors except for one had either a prescribed conflict of interest or a declarable conflict of interest, could the remaining one non-conflicted Councillor decide whether the other Councillors could return and participate in the Council decision?

The new model of ‘Prescribed Conflict of Interest’ does not include the concept of a financial benefit or loss going to a Councillor or their close associate. Is there a reason for this concept being discarded?

The proposed reforms state that a prescribed conflict of interest will include a contract between the Council and the Councillor or close associate or entity which the Councillor or close associate has a financial interest in. Is it just contracts or does a prescribed conflict of interest include other procurement activities as well?

Will there be a process that allows a Councillor with a conflict of interest to provide pertinent information for a Council decision?

Will non-cash gifts or donations to Councillors, such as tickets to functions or a trip away, be considered in the same way as a cash gift or donation? And will this amount to a prescribed conflict of interest or declarable conflict of interest?

Will a gift or donation over the $2,000 be a prescribed conflict of interest where it was received many years/elections in the past?

Is the $2,000 threshold for prescribed conflicts of interest cumulative?

How would the $2,000 threshold for prescribed conflicts of interest work in relation to gifts or donations made to a group?

Councillors are already obliged to update their registers of interests when any change occurs, so why is it proposed that Councillors will also need to provide an annual update to their registers of interests?

Why is it proposed that even existing Councillors who are re-elected will need to re-submit a register of interest within 30 days of re-election?

What happens if a Councillor is unable to lodge a register of interest within the 30 day timeframe post the election through no fault of their own?