Racing minister Stirling Hinchliffe admits the Queensland appeals process needs an overhaul. Picture: AAP
Racing minister Stirling Hinchliffe admits the Queensland appeals process needs an overhaul. Picture: AAP

Changes coming to council ballot box

QUEENSLANDERS will have to number every box when they turn up to vote at next year's council elections, with Labor moving to bring in compulsory preferential voting for local government.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has begun consulting on a suite of reforms, including compulsory preferential voting. Picture: Jack Tran
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has begun consulting on a suite of reforms, including compulsory preferential voting. Picture: Jack Tran

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has begun consulting on a suite of reforms, including compulsory preferential voting, with the aim of putting them in place ahead of the council elections due in about 13 months time.

Campaign expenditure caps will also likely be brought in as recommended by the Crime and Corruption Commission's 2016 council election probe Belcarra.

The move comes about three years after the Government rushed through changes to Queensland's voting system in 2016, scrapping "just vote 1" optional preferential voting.

Mr Hinchliffe said he was consulting councils and other stakeholders about reforms, including some recommended by Belcarra, such as expenditure caps.

"One of those things that we have included in that consultation is the intention to see the consistency of electoral systems across three levels of government by bring the compulsory preferential system in place for local government as well," he said.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington demanded the Government ditch the voting plan, accusing Labor of attempting to "rig" the looming council elections.

" (Annastacia Palaszczuk's) legacy will be rigging Queensland's voting system to benefit the Labor Party," she said.

Mr Hinchliffe said that rolling out compulsory preferential voting to councils was about consistency.

"In Queensland, the Coalition dominates House of Representative seats in the federal Parliament, which is elected by compulsory preferential voting, so I don't get that argument," he said.

A parliamentary inquiry into expenditure caps was the first recommendation of the CCC's Belcarra report.

The CCC did not recommend overhauling the voting system to bring in CPV, however, nor did former Brisbane lord mayor Jim Soorley's council elections inquiry.

Labor's Brisbane councillors have been lobbying the State to bring in compulsory preferential voting for council elections.

Labor's Council Opposition Leader Peter Cumming previously told The Courier-Mail Labor could have picked up two extra wards at the last election if CPV had been in place.

The Local Government Association of Queensland is supportive of the move toward expenditure caps, suggesting $2 per voter for mayoral candidates and $1 per voter for council candidates.

The total spend for Mayoral candidates would be capped at $200,000 and $50,000 for council candidates, under the LGAQ proposal.

The move to bring expenditure caps in on a council level could pave the way for the State to reintroduce them for State Election candidates as well.

They were in place for the 2012 election before being ditched by the former Newman Government.