Registers of interests
A register of interests is important to be able to identify the potential conflicts of interest of councillors, councillor advisors, chief executive officers (CEO) and senior executive officers.
To view a councillors’ current register of interests visit the relevant council’s website.
Online register of interests forms
To make registering and updating your interests easy while improving transparency you can use the register of interests electronic form.
Update: The online form has now been updated so you can add the relationship of your related persons to you. This will now appear automatically on the printed forms.
Complete the forms using a desktop computer so you can save your register file.
To help you complete the forms download the register of interest notes (PDF, 227KB).
On this page
- What is an interest?
- When and how to register your interests
- Registering interests of people related to you
- Scenario – completing registers of interests
- Records held by councils and records that will be publicly available
- Difference between registers of interests and conflicts of interests
- Scenario – Mayor Shaw’s registers of interests
- Consequences of non-compliance
What is an interest?
It is normal for councillors to have personal and financial interests. Owning a business, a property, or shares are all interests that you must register.
As a councillor, your job is to represent the interests of your whole community in the local government area. You are not in your role to make decisions that will help you, your family members, or other people you might know, for example by making decisions that might help their businesses or improve their property investments. Your registers of interests help ensure that the community can have confidence that their councils are transparent and focused on delivering for them.
Financial and non-financial particulars for registers of interests must include details of the following interests:
- shares in a corporation
- positions held as an executive officer of a corporation
- beneficial interests in trust or a nominee corporation
- self-managed superannuation funds
- positions held as trustee for a trust
- partnerships and joint ventures
- land interests
- liabilities over $10,000 (other than department store and credit cards)
- debentures and similar investments (e.g. bonds)
- saving and investment accounts
- gifts totalling $500
- sponsored travel or accommodation totalling $2000 or more
- memberships of political parties or trade or professional organisations
- positions held as an executive officer of an organisation
- donations you make to other people or organisations of $500 or more
- other assets over $5000
- sources of income of $500 or more per year
- other financial or non-financial interests that could raise or appear to raise a conflict of interest.
Financial and non-financial details for registers of interests are listed in Schedule 5 of the Local Government Regulation 2012 and Schedule 3 of the City of Brisbane Regulation 2012.
When completing and updating the registers of interests, details of what must be included are listed on the register of interest notes (PDF, 227KB).
Note: What is an interest is the same for Brisbane City Council and all other councils.
When and how to register your interests
As a councillor you must submit your first register of interests to the council chief executive officer (CEO).
Existing councillors will have already submitted a register of interest to the CEO. Newly elected councillors will need to complete the register and submit it to the CEO within 30 calendar days after the day that your election was declared by the Electoral Commission of Queensland.
Your register of interests responsibilities are:
- submit a new register of interests to the CEO within 30 calendar days of the start of your term or contract
- notify of any changes to interests within 30 calendar days
- review you registers within 30 calendar days of the end of each financial year (councillors and councillor advisors only).
Registering interests of people related to you
When you submit your registers of interests, you may have to submit more than one. For example, you may have to submit:
- one form for yourself
- one form for your spouse (if you have one), if your spouse has any of the types of interests listed on the form
- a separate form for each of your dependent children (if you have any), if they have any of the types of interests listed on the form
- a separate form for each and any other person who is so closely connected to you that they could share any benefits received as a result of council decisions, for example other people besides children who are financially dependent on you.
Note: you do not have to duplicate any joint interests on your related persons forms that you have already listed on your own form. If your related persons do not have any interests to declare you still must submit a NIL return.
The responsibility for submitting these registers of interests forms lies with you, not your spouse or others. You must lodge and sign each form.
If your interests change, or you have new interests or receive new donations or hospitality, you must lodge a new form within 30 calendar days. Similarly, if the interests of your spouse, dependent children or others change or they have new interests, you must lodge a new form for them within 30 calendar days.
Scenario – completing registers of interests
CEO Ledger raises his concern that some new councillors have given insufficient information in their registers of interests.
He sends an email to all councillors reminding them to provide their completed register of interests forms.
Councillor Mitchell calls CEO Ledger to ask why he got this email, as he has already completed and submitted his registers of interests forms.
CEO Ledger explains that he is a bit concerned that in the submitted forms, he might not have provided all the information about the financial and non-financial interests of his related persons.
He points out that a related person is a spouse, or a person who is totally or substantially dependent on the councillor, or someone whose affairs are so closely connected to the councillor's own that a benefit obtained by them could pass to the councillor.
Councillor Mitchell is astounded and wants to know if he is expected to have a register of interest for all his relatives, because in addition to his immediate family he has 25 other relatives in town. He has no idea about all their interests.
CEO Ledger assures Councillor Mitchell that it is a councillor's responsibility to have accurate information in their related persons registers of interest for only their spouse and a person who is substantially dependent on the councillor, such as a child, or whose affairs are closely connected to the councillor's affairs. This includes a financial or non-financial interest that raises or appears to raise a conflict between the councillor's duty and the holder of the interest.
Not all of their relatives' interests are to be included in the registers, and only the councillor's interests are published on the council's website.
Failure to comply with this requirement is a serious matter.
Records held by councils and records that will be publicly available
Your council will keep records of all submitted registers of interests forms. Only forms for you will be made publicly available for members of the community to view. Forms for your spouse, children or others are not made publicly available.
You can go to your council’s website, or any other council’s website, and find the publicly available registers of interests for councillors.
Difference between registers of interests and conflicts of interests
Under the legislation, you have responsibilities to lodge registers of interests forms. After that, you have ongoing, everyday responsibilities to manage conflicts of interest that arise in council meetings or when making council decisions. You may have a conflict of interest when there are any council decisions about matters that could affect your interests or interests of your related parties.
There are specific types of interests that you have to list in your registers of interests. However, there are a broader range of things that could lead to a conflict of interest.
Your registers are a guide to items that may become a conflict of interest in the future, if there are council decisions affecting them. For example, on your register of interests you might list a company that you own or have shares in. Let’s say your spouse has a mowing business. If that company (or your spouse themselves) bids for a council contract, maybe for a contract to mow council parks, that is a prescribed conflict of interest for you as a councillor.
In practice, many of your interests listed on your registers of interests may never lead to a conflict of interest.
However, other matters that are not required to be listed on your register of interests may become a conflict of interest if there is a difference between the community’s best interests and your interests, or those of your spouse, family members or other people close to you.
Scenario – Mayor Shaw’s registers of interests
Councillor Sandra Shaw, Mayor of Sunrise Regional Council, has just been elected and needs to complete her register of interests form for the first time.
She needs to declare registers of interest for herself and any related parties including her husband, Rex, and their three children Samantha, Claire and Craig.
As a third generation farmer, Councillor Shaw and her husband own a farm which operates under the control of a private company of which they are both shareholders, with Councillor Shaw the sole director. The company owns the farming land and machinery and has a $50,000 overdraft with a credit union.
Councillor Shaw, her husband, her son Craig and daughter Claire all live in the homestead on the farm.
Councillor Shaw’s husband helps with the books for the farm and also works part-time in town at a local accountant firm as a bookkeeper.
The eldest daughter, Samantha, recently moved out of home when she married a local high school teacher. She is currently pregnant with her first child and has ceased employment.
Claire still lives at home while she completes her last year of university studying nursing. She works four hours a week at a local bakery and also volunteers at the local hospital during the holidays.
Their son, Craig, is still in high school and does chores on the farm for pocket money. He has shown interest in becoming a farmer and it has been discussed that he should be given a shareholding in the company when he finishes school.
Councillor Shaw will need to consider all of this and their financial interests when submitting her registers of interests.
What Cr Shaw must declare
Information about what interests must be declared can be found in Schedule 5 of the Local Government Regulation 2012 and Schedule 3 of the City of Brisbane Regulation 2012.
Cr Shaw must declare the following, as she is:
- the director of the company
- a shareholder of the company
- lives in a house on a farm
- has a joint bank account with her husband
- is a member of political party.
She does not need to declare the joint credit card up to the $10,000 limit or the new car leased from the company.
Cr Shaw must declare the following for her husband:
- employment with a local accountants’ firm with annual salary worth more than $50,000
- is the secretary of the P&C at the local high school
Cr Shaw does not need to declare for her husband interests held jointly that she has already declared. Voluntary work and cars for personal use do not need to be declared.
Cr Shaw does not need to complete a register of interests form for her eldest daughter, Samantha, as she is not totally or substantially dependent on Cr Shaw.
Cr Shaw must declare the following for her middle daughter, Claire:
- employment at bakery with an annual salary of approximately $15,000
- a bank account with less than $200
- being a member of a political party (university branch).
Cr Shaw does not need to declare for her middle daughter interests held jointly that she has already declared. Voluntary work and cars for personal use do not need to be declared.
Cr Shaw can only declare a bank account worth approximately $2500 for her youngest son Craig.
Cr Shaw does not need to declare for her son interests held jointly that she has already declared. Intention to give shares is not an interest, and pocket money is not income.
Consequences of non-compliance
Non-compliance with legislation covering registers of interests could result in you being charged with an offence under the Local Government Act 2009 or the City of Brisbane Act 2010, or being found to have committed misconduct.
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Last updated: Thursday, Dec 17, 2020