MPs, councillors face jail under strict laws
ENJOYING tea and scones with a developer is fine but accepting domestic and international flights or tickets to concerts costing more than $200 could land a local councillor or state MP and the donor in jail under the Palaszczuk Government’s prohibited donor scheme.
Councils have been given examples of what they can and cannot do when it comes to accepting hospitality from developers and development industry groups under the new laws, which apply equally to state parliamentarians as well.
According to the Electoral Commission of Queensland, which is charged with enforcing the ban, light meals and refreshments, tea, coffee, water and morning or afternoon tea are acceptable.
Flights, extravagant meals of more than $200 or tickets to expensive events like concerts that cost more than $200 are banned.
Electoral Commissioner Pat Vidgen said the ECQ determined the guidelines based on a range of factors.
“To determine what hospitality can be received, ECQ considered the long-standing practices outlined in Parliament’s Code of Ethical Standards and the Queensland Ministerial handbook, which guide acceptable behaviour,” he said.
“We also looked to Queensland’s Electoral Act which states fundraising contributions of $200 or less are not considered a gift and we’ve applied that same dollar value to tokens of hospitality under the prohibited donors scheme.”
Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam responded favourably.
“We think it’s reasonable and local government will abide by those rules,” he said.
is resolving an issue that was a major problem.”
The ECQ moved to clarify how it plans to enforce the developer donation ban following conflicting legal advice obtained by councils over hospitality.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk revealed last year he was refusing to eat when attending development industry lunches, to ensure he did not break the rules.
The donation ban was initially introduced by the Palaszczuk Government on the eve of the 2017 State Election before it was reintroduced and passed last year.
The ban did not officially come into effect until October last year but it was made retrospective meaning any dona“This tions from a developer since October 12, 2017, is illegal.
Anyone who knowingly makes or accepts a prohibited donation faces fines of up to $52,220 or two years in jail.
WE THINK IT’S REASONABLE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT WILL ABIDE BY THOSE RULES. THIS IS RESOLVING AN ISSUE THAT WAS A MAJOR PROBLEM. GREG HALLAM
Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.