Mayor Mick Curran said ratepayer money would be
Mayor Mick Curran said ratepayer money would be "better spent elsewahere” than reimbursing election hopefuls who get more than 4 per cent of the primary vote. Renee Albrecht

Curran critical of council coffers' cash grab for campaigns

A PLAN to slug ratepayers with the cost of council candidates' election campaigns has been criticised by Mayor Mick Curran, who said the money could be "better served elsewhere”.

The State Government proposal would allow local government hopefuls who received more than 4 per cent of the first preference votes to recoup $1.57 per vote.

They would not be able to recover more than they spent.

"This money would be much better served going to valued community projects for the whole of the community and not going to successful or unsuccessful candidates,” Cr Curran said.

Gympie Council 2018 Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.
Gympie Council: Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald. Renee Albrecht

If such a rule existed in the 2016 election every divisional and mayoral candidate in Gympie would have been eligible.

More than $88,000 could have been reimbursed by the council for the campaign.

The State Government's report on the reforms said this would reduce the reliance on donations and shrink the risk of corruption.

The rule is part of a raft of changes being floated by the Government ahead of next year's elections.

These also included spending caps and compulsory preferential voting.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe to refer proposed Livingstone Shire Council boundary changes to the Local Government Change Commission.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe. Allan Reinikka ROK310119alivings

Cr Curran said the proposed electoral spending caps were "too large”.

"We may well see good candidates with limited funding not be able to run a worthwhile or successful campaign,” he said.

Local Government Minister Sterling Hinchliffe said the State would consult stakeholders before committing to any changes aimed at making a "more open and transparent system of local government in Queensland”.

However, Mr Hinchliffe's claim the proposals were "informed by the Belcarra report” was refuted by Cr Curran.

"It wasn't raised in Belcarra, the proposed changes weren't raised in the report of former Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley in his review of the Electoral Commission Queensland, and the proposals were in fact not recommended by the Fitzgerald Inquiry.”