Councillors and council employees contesting elections
Under the Human Rights Act 2019, all people have the right to participate in democratic decision-making and run in local and state government elections if they are eligible.
However, your council may have election period policies for both councillors and council employees.
There are also requirements under legislation for councillors and council employees who contest state and federal elections.
Use of council resources
You must maintain a clear separation between your council role and campaigning activities.
Councillors and council employees should not use council-provided resources such as vehicles, phones, email accounts or printers for campaigning. This applies at any time, not just during the official election period.
Councillors – local government elections
Councillors are not required to resign or take leave during a quadrennial local government election, or for a by-election for a different position such as Mayor or changing divisions.
There are limits during the caretaker period on publishing election material and making major policy decisions (PDF, 96KB). There is no caretaker period for by-elections.
A sitting councillor who is unsuccessful for re-election at a quadrennial election stops being a councillor immediately when the ECQ announces the result of the election to candidates.
If you run as a councillor in a by-election for mayor and are unsuccessful you continue in your role as a councillor. If you are successful you start being mayor and stop your previous councillor role as soon as you take your declaration of office (after the ECQ announces the result of the election).
Councillors – state elections
Councillors are not required to resign to contest a state election, but must take leave without pay during the election period:
- Compulsory leave starts on the day the Electoral Commission of Queensland publishes the final list of candidates for the election (normally soon after the close of nominations). Councillors can seek to start a leave of absence earlier if they wish.
- You must remain on leave until the full results of election have been declared, even if it is already clear that you have been unsuccessful in your electorate.
Councillors should advise the council meeting chairperson (normally the mayor) of their intention to take a leave of absence, and then seek approval from councillors at an ordinary council meeting.
If successful at the election, you are taken to have stopped being a councillor when you take your oath of office .
If a mayor or councillor is successful at an election or leaves the role for another reason, their vacant council position is filled:
- councillors in the first 12 months of the term: councils decide whether to appoint the election runner up or hold a by-election (except for Brisbane City Council who hold a by-election), and if there is no runner up, then a by-election is held
- councillors in the middle period: by holding a by-election
- mayors in the first 12 months or middle period: by holding a by-election
- mayors and councillors in the last 12 months of the council term: by appointment by other councillors.
Council employees – local government elections
Council employees are not required by legislation to resign or take leave to contest local government elections. However, taking leave is recommended, especially during the official election period (i.e. when the ECQ has notified the election date and opened nominations).
However, your council may also have policies requiring you to take election leave.
Employees have a right to take up to two months leave either as paid leave (e.g. accrued annual leave) or unpaid leave.
If successful at the election, you are taken to have stopped being a local government employee the day before you take your declaration of office.
Council employees – state elections
Council employees are not required to resign to contest a state election, but must take leave (paid or unpaid) during the election period:
- Compulsory leave starts on the day the Electoral Commission of Queensland publishes the final list of candidates for the election (normally soon after the close of nominations). You can seek to start leave earlier if you wish.
- You must remain on leave until the ECQ has declared the winning candidate in your electorate.
If successful at the election, you are deemed to have stopped being a local government employee the day before election day.
Information about the eligibility of councillors, council employees and state government employees to nominate for a federal election is available on the Australian Electoral Commission website.
State and federal government employees
State and federal government employees are not required by legislation to resign or take leave to contest a Queensland local government election.
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Last updated: Monday, Jun 21, 2021