Belcarra Bills Introduced to Parliament


The Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 and Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 have been introduced to Parliament.

The Bills have been introduced in response to recommendations within the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) report, Operation Belcarra: A Blueprint for Integrity and Addressing Corruption Risk in Local Government (Belcarra Report). The Bills aim to improve transparency and public accountability of candidates in local government elections, as well as introducing operational changes to the State’s electoral system.
Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra proposes to introduce:

• full preferential voting for mayoral and single councillor elections (effective for the 2020 local government election);
• mandatory training for all candidates in local government elections;
• 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; and
• introducing new requirements relating to councillors’ registers of interests to align with the requirements applying to State MPs.

The Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 expands the Electoral Commission of Queensland’s functions to increase compliance with election funding and disclosure, as well as making changes to the absentee voting system and roles and management of returning officers. 

Legislation implementing Stage 1 of the Belcarra reforms was vocally opposed by the Property Council when introduced in 2017 for singling out the property sector for inequitable treatment under electoral laws, and unduly branding Queensland’s biggest non-government employer as a corruption risk. The Property Council has stressed the importance of equality before the law, regardless of occupation or industry.

More information on the Property Council’s advocacy is available here.

The Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 and Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 have been referred to Committees, with a reporting date yet to be determined.