Lauga: Local Government CEOs should stay out of elections
Chief Executive Officers of Local Governments should not act as the Returning Officer of council elections according to Keppel MP Brittany Lauga.
Ms Lauga spoke in State Parliament today in favour of proposed legislation which proposes to remove the default position of the CEO of a local government being the returning officer and instead enable the ECQ to appoint returning officers.
The legislation will ensure that the CEO of a Council cannot be the Returning Officer of a Council election, except in exceptional circumstances.
"This legislation is about integrity, fairness and transparency in local government elections" Ms Lauga said.
"As local government CEOs work closely with elected mayors and councillors in carrying out their duties, CEOs performing the role of RO for a local government election present the potential for a conflict of interest, especially where incumbents recontest an election.
"Integrity, transparency and fairness are important principles in the conducting of local government elections.
"I know that our communities want local government to be transparent and fair.
"Communities do not want Returning Officers of any election to have a conflict of interest (whether it be a perceived conflict or otherwise).
"I have consulted with the Mayors of both of the local governments in my electorate. Both the Mayor of Livingstone Shire Council Bill Ludwig and the Mayor of Rockhampton Regional Council Margaret Strelow are both in favour of the proposed amendments."
Under the proposed new section 9 of the Bill, the ECQ may appoint a person as the returning officer for a local government election unless the person is a minor, a member of a political party or the CEO of a local government for which the election is to be held.
Despite these restrictions, the ECQ may appoint a CEO of the local government as the returning officer if the CEO is not a member of a political party and the ECQ considers the CEO is the only person with experience in conducting elections who is reasonably available to be appointed as the returning officer.