Council candidate training, donation change in new state law

COMPULSORY councillors and candidate training and real-time disclosure of electoral donations are among changes in a raft of reforms stemming from a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation. 

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the proposed reforms would strengthen transparency, integrity and accountability in all councils.

The reforms are included in the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) Amendment Bill 2019.

"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.

"It ensures every vote counts, electing the candidate preferred by a majority of voters, and is thus inherently more democratic.

"We're also seeking to implement real time disclosure of electoral spending, an important transparency measure that will make local government representatives more accountable."

Mr Hinchliffe said developments in Ipswich and Logan councils reaffirmed the State Government's commitment to a comprehensive suite of local government reforms.

Other proposed reforms in Belcarra Stage 2 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
  • introducing new requirements relating to councillors' registers of interests to align with the requirements applying to State MPs.

Belcarra Stage 1 reforms included the creation of the Office of the Independent Assessor to handle councillor complaints and introducing a new councillor Code of Conduct.



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