'Tell us now' donation laws at next council elections
Queenslanders will be better informed as they go to the polls at council elections following a series of legislative reforms passed by parliament including amendments which pave the way for the introduction of real-time online disclosure of electoral donations.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Jackie Trad said the changes are in response to a 2015 Crime and Corruption Commission report on transparency and accountability in local government.
"The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring our electoral processes are as accountable and transparent as possible," Ms Trad said.
"The passage of this legislation ensures full disclosure of campaign donations during local government elections so Queenslanders know who they're voting for when they go to the polls."
Minister for Local Government Mark Furner said that the new laws would be in place before the next council elections in 2020.
"We have mandated real-time disclosure of political donations, delivering some of the most open and transparent laws in the country," Mr Furner said.
"The more recent Crime and Corruption Commission hearing into the 2016 council elections highlighted issues of transparency and accountability and should that investigation lead to further recommendations for legislative reform, the Government will consider them."
The Local Government Electoral (Transparency and Accountability in Local Government) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 changes the Local Government Electoral Act 2011. The Bill:
- facilitates real-time online electoral donation disclosure for local government elections, consistent with the state system;
- clarifies that incorporated associations are not be permitted to receive or hold electoral campaign funds which are intended to be applied for a member's benefit, either directly or indirectly;
- ensures that a candidate's dedicated account can only be used for gifts and loans received and expenditure made for electoral campaigns, making it easier to trace campaign expenditure;
- requires unspent campaign donations in a candidate's dedicated account to be either kept in the account for the conduct of another election campaign, paid to a registered charity nominated by the candidate, or paid to the relevant political party; and
- sets the candidate and third party election disclosure donation threshold at $500 to align with a councillor's register of interest gift disclosures threshold.
A review panel which included representatives of the Local Government Association of Queensland, the Electoral Commission of Queensland and State agencies assessed the CCC's report.