Palaszczuk Government electoral reforms introduced to Parliament today will increase transparency and integrity and make voting easier for Queenslanders.
The Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 implements recommendations from the Crime and Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra: A blueprint for integrity and addressing corruption risk in local government and makes operational improvements to the State’s electoral system by implementing the Government’s response to A review of the conduct of the 2016 local government elections, the referendum and the Toowoomba South by‑election (Soorley report).
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the bill included a new obligation for an entity that makes a gift or loan to a registered political party or candidate of $1000 or over to notify a recipient of the true source of a gift or loan.
“This requirement also applies to an entity making a gift to third parties who incur expenditure for political purposes,” she said.
“It will prevent intermediaries being used to circumvent existing disclosure requirements which play an important role in ensuring the transparency and accountability of Queensland’s electoral system.
“This bill will also expand the Electoral Commission of Queensland’s (ECQ) functions to increase compliance with election funding and disclosure.
“The timeframe over which financial records are to be kept by the ECQ, candidates, parties and third parties in relation to electoral funding and expenditure will be raised from three years to five years.
“The bill also increases the period over which funding and disclosure prosecutions can be brought from three years to four years.”
Mrs D’Ath said absent voting will be faster and easier, with people able to be issued with an ordinary vote.
“This is better for voters and the ECQ, saving $456,000 through reduced declaration votes and associated reduced staffing, printing and distribution costs,” she said.
“Queenslanders will also learn the outcome of elections sooner with postal votes to be organised for counting on polling day.”
Mrs D’Ath said the amendments also address the Soorley report’s recommendations relating to technology, communication, the postal voting system and the roles and management of returning officers.
The reforms also adopt four‑year fixed terms to achieve improved consistency across the electoral system.