Local government electoral expenditure caps scheme
The Local Government Electoral and Other Legislation (Expenditure Caps) Amendment Act 2023 (the Act) was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 18 April 2023 and received assent on 2 May 2023.
The Act amends the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 to implement an electoral expenditure caps scheme (the scheme) for local government elections. The scheme will level the playing field and ensure there is a fair opportunity for all participants.
The scheme was developed through a comprehensive consultation process with the public and with Queensland councillors and mayors, and aligns where practical with the state electoral expenditure caps scheme, which is already in place under the Electoral Act 1992.
The development of the scheme was guided by the following legislative reform principles:
The local government electoral expenditure caps scheme introduces caps on electoral spending for all participants in Queensland local government elections.
This will first apply at the March 2024 local government quadrennial elections. The caps apply for the seven months prior to a quadrennial election, and from the day a by-election notice is published, through to polling day.
The caps for mayoral and councillor candidates are grouped into different bands, recognising differences in elector numbers and the varied shapes and sizes of Queensland’s 77 local governments:
Mayoral candidate electoral expenditure caps (rounded to nearest $10)
Number of electors in local government area
Up to 30,000
30,001 to 150,000
$1 per elector
150,001 to 200,000
$150,000 plus an additional 50c per elector for each additional elector over 150,000 electors
More than 200,000
$175,000 plus an additional 25c per elector for each additional elector over 200,000 electors
Brisbane City Council
Councillor candidate electoral expenditure caps (rounded to nearest $10)
Number of electors in local government area/division
Up to 20,000
20,001 to 39,999
75c per elector
40,000 or more
Brisbane City Council ward
How the scheme works
- The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) will determine and publish updated elector numbers for each relevant local government area or division and the corresponding caps that will apply. This will ensure there is clarity about how much can be spent.
- Groups of candidates and political parties endorsing candidates can pool their individual candidate caps, including the mayoral cap, within a single local government area.
- The Act requires third parties incurring electoral expenditure of more than $6,000 to register with the Electoral Commission of Queensland. The cap for an unregistered third party is $6,000.
- The cap for registered third parties in a quadrennial election is equal to the mayoral electoral expenditure cap that would apply in the relevant local government areas.
- The cap for registered third parties cannot be pooled across different local government areas.
The Act aligns the definition of electoral expenditure, including ‘campaign purpose’, with the definition which applies for the state scheme.
The department will be working with the Electoral Commission of Queensland to support compliance with the scheme through the development of resources and training material, including information on the scope of electoral expenditure.
For more information, please contact the Electoral Commission of Queensland on 1300 881 665 or email@example.com.
Last updated: 03 May 2023