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The purpose of this bulletin is to provide advice to local governments on the limitations on publishing election material and making major policy decisions during the caretaker period.
The caretaker provisions of the Local Government Act 2009 are outlined in Part 5 of Chapter 3.
The caretaker period for a local government is the period during local government elections that starts on the day when public notice of the holding of the election is given. The caretaker period ends at the conclusion of the election. The Electoral Commission of Queensland will advise when the caretaker period commences and when it will conclude for each local government.
A local government must not, during a caretaker period for the local government, publish or distribute election material.
Election material is anything able to, or intended to:
A local government must not make a major policy decision during a caretaker period for the local government. However, in exceptional circumstances, a local government may make a major policy decision in the public interest during the caretaker period, once approval has been given by the Minister.
Under the legislation, a major policy decision means a decision:
A major policy decision made by a local government during a caretaker period will be invalid if the Minister's approval has not been sought prior to making the decision. A local government may be liable for damages for contracts entered into for major policy decisions during the caretaker period without the Minster's approval.
Local governments should prepare for the caretaker period by planning to make any major policy decision before or after the election period.
However, it is understood that unforeseeable events can result in a local government having to make major policy decisions during the caretaker period. Accordingly in exceptional circumstances, local governments can apply to the Minister for approval in the following circumstances if the:
The Minister will decide on a case-by-case basis whether the decision meets the exceptional circumstances requirement of the Local Government Act 2009.
Alternatively, applications can be addressed to:
Mr Jack Noye
Department of Local Government and Planning
PO Box 15009
City East Qld 4002
Each application should include:
The department has established administrative processes to ensure applications from councils can be dealt with in a timely manner.
For further information in relation to the requirements of the local government caretaker period, please contact the Department of Local Government and Planning.