2020 local election campaign costs revealed

NBRC Mayor Rachel Chambers. Picture: Facebook.

Kate McCormack

In what may have been one of the costliest campaign periods in Burnett history, the Burnett Today can now report how much several Burnett campaigners spent on the duration of their campaigns and has prompted an investigation into whether or not there is a need for a financial cap when it comes to future local council campaigns.

With the reporting period of 15 weeks since the Queensland local council elections were held on Saturday, March 28 of this year the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) makes it compulsory for all campaigners to declare their expenditures.

According to the ECQ expenditure reports, one mayoral candidate is sitting well and truly ahead of every campaigner in the region in terms of his campaign costs.

With reporting dates starting on September 13, 2019 and concluding on April 27, 2020 Brett Otto amassed a total expenditure of $69,873.06 on his 2020 race to become mayor of the South Burnett Regional Council, of which $21,454 was sourced from gifts to his campaign.

His North Burnett Counterpart, Mayor Rachel Chambers tallied up a total of $4,529.32 with all of the funds coming solely via way of gifts.

Meanwhile one of the next biggest campaign budgets was former SBRC mayor Keith Campbell’s at $28,504 prompting Burnett Today to enquire whether a cap should be placed on local campaign expenditure.

Mr Otto elected not to provide comment regarding his campaign expenses, however Veteran campaigner and SBRC division 5 councillor Kathy Duff informed Burnett Today her 2020 campaign cost $3363.09 and said she couldn’t see the need for an expense cap.

“I don’t think there should be a cap placed on expenditure. I think it should be left up to the individual to decide how little or how much they want to put into a campaign.

Meanwhile, SBRC mayoral candidate Abigail Andersson’s campaign cost $3,899.00 and she said there should be a $10,000 cap placed on local campaign expenditures.

“I think having a cap on how much everyone can spend on their election would be valuable to regional elections in the future.

“Right now there’s been a social barrier created, and it is preventing good people and strong candidates from running because they feel like they don’t have the resources to run a proper campaign and this means the public don’t get a varied selection.”

Mr Campbell said he was also in favour of Queensland exploring some form of an expenditure cap when it came to future local council elections.

“This idea was talked about last year when the Government was looking at proposed changes to Local Government Elections. If implemented, this could create a framework and a maximum limit on a candidate’s election spend.

“I recall discussions on expenditure limits for Councillors and Mayoral candidates were based on maximums of $1 per voter for divisional councillors and $2 per voter for mayoral candidates.

“These figures were suggested along with other considerations being thought through as part of Belcarra reforms.”

Following the Queensland local government elections on in 2016, the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission received complaints about the conduct of candidates for several councils, including Gold Coast, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Logan.

Operation Belcarra was commenced to determine whether candidates committed offences under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 that could constitute corrupt conduct

examine practices that may give rise to actual or perceived corruption, or otherwise undermine public confidence in the integrity of local government, with a view to identifying strategies or reforms to help prevent or decrease corruption risks and increase public confidence.

According to the ECQ the other North Burnett candidates declared campaign costs are as follows:

David Rofe (div 5) – $2,160.80

Melinda Jones (div 1) – $1,783.75

Leslie Hotz (division 2) – $1,596.85

Paul Lobegeier (div 1) – $1,545.99

Susan Payne (div 3) – $875.06

Faye Whelan (div 3) – $691.49

Dael Giddins (div 4) – $562.70

Peter Webster (div 2) – $529.55

Robbie Radel (div 6) – $405.00

Juanita Kreis (div 4) – $185.42

Moira Thompson (div 6) – $161.35

Marshall Langston (div 2) – $48.45

Michael Dingle (div 5) – $0

Amanda Wenck (div 4) – unknown

Peter Warren (div 1) – unknown

Glen Martin (div 6) – unknown

Neil Holmes (div 6) – unknown

According to the ECQ the other South Burnett candidates declared campaign costs are as follows:

Scott “Hook” Henschen (div 6) – $24,709.61

Toni Ralph (mayoral candidate) – $11,131.94

Kirstie Schumacher (div 4) – $5,022.07

Ros Heit (div 6) – $4,582.64

Terry Fleischfresser (div 4) – $1,937.58

Roz Frohloff (div 1) – $904.00

Danita Potter (div 3) – $686.96

Gavin “Spud” Jones (div 2) $0

Rhonda Trivett (div 3) – unknown

Colleen Bird (div 5) – unknown

We’d like to hear from our readers. Do you think future local council elections should involve an expenditure cap? Write to us via email newsdesk@burnetttoday.com.au or send us a letter the old fashioned way to our office at 154 Haly St. Kingaroy.