Brisbane Central MP Grace Grace at Labour Day on 7 May 2007, Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the past few days, several members of the Legislative Assembly in Queensland who lost their seat in the election on Saturday expressed an interest in running in the upcoming local government elections. In particular, Grace Grace, who had been the Labor member for Brisbane Central, was hoping to nominate for the Central Ward in the Brisbane City Council election, and Rob Messenger, who had been the Independent member for Burnett, was hoping to nominate for Lord Mayor of Bundaberg. However, both were apparently told yesterday that they could not stand for local government until results in the state poll are officially declared by the Electoral Commission later this week. Having looked at the relevant legislation this morning, this seems to me to be plainly wrong.
155 Disqualification because of other high office
(1) A person can not be a councillor while the person is a government member.
(2) A government member is—
(a) a member of a Parliament of the Commonwealth or a State (including Queensland); or
(b) a councillor of a local government of another State.
(3) A person automatically stops being a councillor when the person becomes—
(a) a government member; or
(b) a candidate for election as a member of the Legislative Assembly.
However, s 26(3) of the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 makes it clear that members of the Legislative Assembly are able to nominate for local government as long as they resign on becoming a candidate:
(3) To remove any doubt, it is declared that, a person is not disqualified from being nominated as a candidate, or for appointment, as a councillor only because the person is amember of the Legislative Assembly or a local government employee.
Example—A person who is a member of the Legislative Assembly may nominate as a candidate for election as a councillor but must resign on becoming a candidate.
Therefore, as long as Grace Grace, Rob Messenger and anyone else resign from the Legislative Assembly before becoming a candidate, they are able to run in the upcoming local government elections. I am not aware of anything that would prevent them from resigning today.
(I have posted this very quickly to get the relevant law part of the conversation. It is possible I have overlooked something. I can also explain my legal reasoning in considerably more detail if necessary.)