Local government elections were held throughout Queensland on 19 March 2016. This site was constructed for the purpose of faciltating early disclosure, by Sunshine Coast Council candidates, of donations they received to fund their election campaigns. It also had the purpose of demonstrating to the Queensland State Government that many candidates would be prepared to accept that voters are entitled to know the source of their campaign donations.
Fourty three candidates stood for the positions of mayor or for one of the ten divisional councillor positions. Only ten candidates declined to use our site to facilitate their disclosure. Of those, two councillor candidates disclosed their funding sources, immediately prior to the election, via their register of interests on the Sunshine Coast Council website.
We believe the extensive publicity given to the OSCAR Disclosure Initiative throughout the Sunshine Coast greatly assisted in achieving our aims. Also, this exposure could have discouraged some donors from making donations and perhaps discouraged some candidates from receiving certain donations.
Is disclosure required?
Queensland State legislation requires that candidates disclose donations to their campaign within 15 weeks after the election. There is no limit to the amount of money that can be donated by an individual or other entity. No classes of individual or other entity are banned from making donations.
Why should disclosure be made before the election?
There is considerable concern throughout Australia that some donors to council election campaigns are seeking to obtain special access to council or are seeking to influence councillor decisions. The NSW Government recognized this problem and now has laws that prevent developers or persons associated with development from making donations to candidates for State and local government elections. Queensland has no such law.
Our disclosure guidelines
Our guidelines for candidate disclosure were based on the recommendations for legislative change made in 2006 by the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission. Our guidelines were:
- We ask that all candidates disclose all donations in excess of $200.
- We ask that all candidates disclose all donations within three days of receipt.
- We ask that all candidates refuse to accept donations after the Monday before polling day. This will allow time for all donations to be disclosed on this website before the election.
- We ask that all councillors who are candidates disclose all donations received since their disclosure after the 2012 election.
- We ask that all other candidates disclose all donations received in the last six months.