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Fraud management in local government and electronic voting at local government elections

Purpose

Two important amendments to local government legislation have recently been made - one about fraud management in local government and the other about allowing access to electronically assisted voting for particular voters.

The purpose of this bulletin is to inform councils of the changes and the impacts on Queensland councils.

Background

Fraud Management - amendments to Local Government Regulation 2012 and City of Brisbane Regulation 2012

The Local Government Legislation Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2015 SL No. 140 (PDF icon 144 KB), which commenced on 16 October 2015, amends the City of Brisbane Regulation 2012 (CBR) and Local Government Regulation 2012 (LGR) to implement recommendation 1 of the Queensland Audit Office (QAO) report Fraud Management in Local Government - Report 19: 2014-15 (PDF icon 1.89 MB) (the QAO report) (tabled in Parliament on 2 June 2015).

The explanatory notes (PDF icon 33.69 KB) can be found on the Legislation Queensland website.

The QAO report made two recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1 is that the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning pursue amendments of the LGR and the CBR to require:
    • loss as a result of fraud to be a reportable loss to the Auditor-General and to the Minister responsible for local government
    • councils to keep written records of alleged and proven losses arising from fraud.
  • Recommendation 2 is that all councils assess themselves against the findings in this report as a priority and where needed develop, revise or update their:
    • policies and procedures for fraud and corruption management
    • fraud and corruption control plans
    • fraud risk assessments
    • data analytics capability for fraud detection.

In August 2015, Councils were informed of the QAO audit report and the Government's intention to amend the CBR and the LGR to require councils to report fraud losses, to keep written records of alleged and proven fraud-related losses, and to align the CBR and the LGR with the State's Financial and Performance Management Standard 2009 (FPMS) where appropriate.

Councils were also asked to review and consider the content of the QAO report with a view to identifying areas for systems improvements.

Electronic voting - Local Government Electoral Act 2011

For the January 2015 State general election, electronically assisted voting was available for use by blind and low vision electors.

To align with the State, on 6 September 2015, amendments to the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 (LGEA) commenced to allow for electronically assisted voting:

  • for electors with an impairment or an insufficient level of literacy
  • if an elector cannot vote at a polling booth because of an impairment
  • if an elector is a member of a class of electors prescribed under a regulation.

The LGEA section 75A provides that the ECQ may make procedures about how an elector may cast an electronically assisted vote for an election.

The procedures do not take effect until approved by a regulation and the procedures and regulation are required to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly and published on the ECQ's website.

On 8 September 2015, the ECQ made electronically assisted voting procedures for local government elections. The procedures provide for the use of electronically assisted voting at local government elections for the following persons:

  • electors who cannot vote without assistance because of impairment or an insufficient level of literacy
  • electors who cannot vote at a polling booth because of impairment
  • electors who are 'special postal voters'
  • electors who are 'distance voters'.

Accordingly, the Local Government Electoral Amendment (No. 1) Regulation 2015 (PDF icon 132.51 KB), which commenced on 23 October 2015, amends the Local Government Electoral Regulation 2012 to:

  • prescribe 'special postal voters' (as defined in section 68(5A) of the LGEA) as a class of electors who may cast an electronically assisted vote at a local government election, pursuant to section 68(5B)(c) of the LGEA
  • prescribe 'distance voters' as a class of electors who may cast an electronically assisted vote at a local government election, pursuant to section 68(5B)(c) of the LGEA
  • insert the definition 'distance voter' to mean an elector whose address, as shown on the voters roll, is more than 20km by the nearest practicable route from a polling booth
  • approve, as required under section 75A(3) of the LGEA, the electronically assisted voting procedures for local government elections made by the ECQ.

The explanatory notes (PDF icon 33.69 KB) can be found on the Legislation Queensland website.

The procedures (PDF icon 509 KB) were tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 26 October 2015.

What's new for councils?

Fraud management

From 16 October 2015, the CBR section 279A and the LGR section 307A provide that:

  • councils must keep written records of both alleged and proven losses arising from fraud (including money) (consistent with the QAO's recommendation)
  • councils must keep written records of material losses (other than those arising from an offence or corrupt conduct) (consistent with the FPMS)
  • councils must report, within six months, a material loss as a result of fraud to the Minister and the Auditor-General and in certain circumstances, to the police or the Crime and Corruption Commission (consistent with the QAO's recommendation and the FPMS)
  • material loss for Brisbane City Council (BCC), under the CBR means:
    • for money - a loss of more than $500 (consistent with the FPMS)
    • given the size of BCC, the threshold for material losses for any other asset, other than money, is $5000 (consistent with the FPMS)
  • material loss for all other local governments (excluding BCC), under the LGR means:
    • for money - a loss of more than $500 (consistent with the FPMS)
    • for any other asset - a loss valued at more than $1000 (considered appropriate as local government frauds are likely to involve amounts less than $5000) (not consistent with the FPMS).

The LGR section 307A (Reporting missing local government property) is omitted as the policy intent is captured by new chapter 9 part 6 (section 307A).

Useful websites

Fraud management

Electronic voting

Further information

Any further enquiries on this matter should be addressed to:

Mr Tim Dunne
Manager
Local Government and Regional Services
PO Box 15009
City East
Brisbane QLD 4002