The Queensland Government is delivering a rolling reform agenda in the local government sector.
New reforms since 2018 strengthen the transparency, accountability and integrity measures that apply to the system of local government in Queensland and follow the release of the Belcarra report and other input from local government stakeholders.
Integrity: ensuring councillors are fully informed about their obligations as candidates and councillors, and requiring councillors to uphold the highest levels of honesty and impartiality when making decisions
Transparency: clarifying and strengthening requirements for elections, and ensuring that the community can understand why councils make the decisions they do in the public interest
Diversity: promoting councils being representative of their communities and making it easier for potential candidates to nominate and campaign
Consistency: aligning local government with state and federal processes and aligning requirements between Brisbane City Council (BCC) and other local governments
Crime and Corruption Commission Operation Belcarra report released
|Jun 2018||Queensland Audit Office report released.|
The department is committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders throughout the reform process. At each stage of the reforms, the department has released information papers to Councillors, the Local Government Association of Queensland and other stakeholders.
Conflicts of interests
In the past, Councillors have been able to ‘declare’ that they had a conflict of interest, but then they could still decide to participate and make decisions about the matter.
New legislation creates two new categories of prescribed conflicts of interest and declarable conflicts of interest (in effect October 2020). In an important leading reform, Councillors in Queensland will be prohibited from taking part in decisions where they have received donations or gifts, or if they will directly benefit from a decision. This move integrity measures one step further than only requiring Councillors to ‘declare’ the conflict.
Changes to the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 introduced the requirement for mandatory training to ensure candidates are aware of their legal obligations.
Training was offered during the period before the 2020 election nominations from 30 October 2019 to 3 March 2020. More than 2000 people completed the training, including 100% of candidates in the election.
The department also launched the So you want to be a councillor? website to help candidates understand their obligations and what was involved in the role of a Councillor and ran a state-wide information campaign to encourage a diverse range of candidates to consider running.
Implementation and Councillor training
Following each stage of the reforms, the department has provided information and assistance to Councils on the changes. This has included face-to-face training sessions, online webinars with questions and answers, online information and resources, and a dedicated email address and phone hotline for information.
Range of reforms
- Lower donation thresholds and real-time disclosures (2016 reform for local and state government)
- Ban on property developer donations
- New regime for conflicts of interest
- Uniform code of conduct for Councillors
- Model Council meeting procedures
- Changes to the Councillor conduct register
- New annual report requirements
- New Office of the Independent Assessor for Councillor complaints
- Mandatory candidate training
- Transparent candidate bank accounts
- Clarified responsibilities for Councillors in preparing budgets
- Requirements for caretaker period decisions
- Changes to filling Councillor vacancies
- Changes for dissolution of Councils
- New requirements for candidates in groups
- RTI covers Brisbane City Council civic cabinet
- Expanded Councillor access to information
- Removed Mayoral powers to direct senior executive officers
- Changes to the appointment of senior executive officers
- Improved real-time donation disclosures including real donation sources
- Real-time expenditure disclosures
- Independent Assessor to investigate Brisbane City Council complaints
- Lower limits on size of discretionary funds, requirement to publicise spending, ban on allocation from 1 January in election years
- New and clarified conflict of interest requirements consistent with state MPs
- New register of interest requirements
- New requirements for political advisors
- New transparency requirements for meetings
- Meeting minutes to include more information
- Restrictions on closed-meeting discussions
Register for updates
To stay up to date about the local government reforms you can register for email updates.
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Ph: 07 3452 6747
The hotline is available between the hours of 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. The department will endeavour to respond to any questions within 48 hours (business days).