So you want to be a Councillor?


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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If you are still giving thought to running in the local government election on 28 March, you may want to take into account the complexity of this decision.

Those who have already committed – and the Douglas Shire list continues to grow – have had a number of tasks to perform, which includes a ‘So you want to be a councillor’ training course, which is orchestrated by the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

The course has three modules and takes about an hour to complete.

• Module 1 gives an overview of your obligations as a candidate.
• Module 2 gives an overview of your obligations as a councillor, if elected.
• Module 3 is a resource library with links to a range of information about the topics in the training.

Candidates are presented with a certificate on completion of the course. 

In addition to the training, anyone who intends to contest the election will need to respond to a number of tasks and questions which can be obtained from the Electoral Commission of Queensland website. 

There is an extensive list of issues which potential candidates need to address, which include:

• Your eligibility to be a councillor
• Opening and operating a dedicated campaign bank account
• Disclosure of political donations
• Checking electoral advertising and signage rules
• Disclosure of electoral expenditure
• Checking the prohibited donation rules
• Be prepared to declare your personal interests
• Record keeping requirements

This became active on 20 January 2020 when new laws came into effect making changes to local government elections that affect a range of participants particularly candidates, registered political parties, third-party campaigners and political donors.

The range and depth of information required has not deterred former councillor Bruce Clarke, who will be trying to win back a seat in Council Chambers in the March election. Clarke was not re-elected at the 2016 election.

“The process has changed over the years and we have to grin and bear it. I am not overawed by what is required; it’s pretty much straight forward and common sense.

“I am sure everyone else running will be thinking on the same lines. We all have to do it and I actually think it’s a positive,” said Clarke.

Clarke is among a growing list of candidates seeking election in March.

Those bidding for a councillor position in Council Chambers include incumbent Councillors Roy Zammattaro and Abigail Noli, who is also Deputy Mayor, Natalie Johnson, Lisa Scomazzon, Kym Rowley, Peter McKeown and Steve Cruickshank.

Of the other incumbent councillors, David Carey has yet to commit while Michael Kerr is challenging Mayor Julia Leu, who will be seeking a third term.

Nominations for candidates for election as mayors and councillors will be open from the publication of the Notice of Election on 22 February – also when the caretaker period takes effect – until midday on Tuesday, 3 March 2020.

Visit the ECQ for more information.

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