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Local Government election and State by-elections Direction (No. 2)

Queensland local government elections will be held on Saturday 28 March 2020. Measures are being taken to lower the risk of the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Voters attending a polling place must follow social distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres from others, avoid handshaking and not linger or gather around a polling place.

This direction provides information on what is required of the Electoral Commission of Queensland and their staff and contractors, and political parties, their representatives, candidates and volunteers.

Visit the Electoral Commission Queensland website for further information.

Direction from Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency

Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)
Section 362B

On 29 January 2020, under the Public Health Act 2005, the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services made an order declaring a public health emergency in relation to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The public health emergency area specified in the order is for ‘all of Queensland’. Its duration has been extended by regulation to 19 May 2020.

Further to this declaration, l, Dr Jeannette Young, Chief Health Officer, reasonably believe it is necessary to give the following directions pursuant to the powers under s362B of the Public Health Act 2005 to assist in containing, or to respond to, the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

Preamble

  1. This Public Health Direction replaces the Public Health Direction referred to as the Local Government election and State by-elections Direction made on 22 March 2020.

Citation

  1. This Public Health Direction may be referred to as the Local Government election and State by-elections Direction (No 2).

Revocation

  1. The Local Government election and State by-elections Direction made on 22 March 2020 is revoked from the time of publication of this direction.

PART 1 – ARRANGEMENTS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION AND STATE BY-ELECTIONS

The purpose of this Part is to make directions about the conduct of the 2020 quadrennial local government election under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 and State by-elections under the Electoral Act 1992 to minimise the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

The directions apply to:

  1. the Electoral Commission of Queensland;
  2. staff and contractors of the Electoral Commission of Queensland;
  3. political parties, their representatives, candidates and volunteers;
  4. voters participating in the election and persons accompanying them, such as family members.

These directions apply from the time of publication of the directions until the results of the local government election and State by-elections have been declared by the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

Directions to Electoral Commission of Queensland

  1. The Electoral Commission of Queensland must take all reasonable steps to ensure the conduct of the local government election and State by-elections are undertaken in accordance with the following requirements:
    1. encourage vulnerable people, including those aged 60 and over, to vote between 9am and 11am on election day and encourage all other voters to vote outside these hours, if possible;
    2. prioritise voting by vulnerable persons on election day to ensure they spend as little time as possible at polling booths, for example, by allowing them to form separate queues or providing them with concierge services;
    3. encourage social distancing by all persons participating in the elections, including wherever possible encouraging the distance between people to be at least 1.5 metres, as far as reasonably practicable and avoiding handshaking;
    4. monitor the number of people within each indoor polling booth to ensure it does not exceed 100 people at any given time;
    5. ensure all voters only use one station within a polling booth at a time, subject to section 78 of the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 and section 108 of the Electoral Act 1992, which allow issuing officers to approve voters seeking assistance from another person when casting a vote if they are unable to vote without help;
    6. provide hygiene facilities for the use of staff, contractors and voters, including the availability of hand sanitiser at all polling booths;
    7. voting material, including how-to-vote cards, must be displayed statically at all polling booths and may not be distributed or handed out by candidates, political parties, their representatives or voters;
    8. encourage voters to bring their own pen or pencil to the election, to take their own pen or pencil with them after voting and not share pens or pencils with other voters;
    9. arrange for telephone voting to be available for eligible voters who cannot attend a polling booth, including people in aged care facilities and anyone advised by a medical practitioner to remain in isolation;
    10. encourage voters to minimise the time spent in static close contact within the polling booth;
    11. encourage voters not to gather or linger in or around the polling booth before or after voting.

Directions to staff and contractors of the Electoral Commission of Queensland

  1. Staff and contractors of the Electoral Commission of Queensland must take all reasonable steps to ensure the conduct of the local government election and State by-elections are undertaken in accordance with the requirements of paragraphs (1)(a) to (e), (h), (j) and (k).

Directions to political parties, their representatives, candidates and volunteers

  1. Political parties, their representatives, candidates and volunteers must take all reasonable steps to ensure the conduct of the local government election and State by-elections are undertaken in accordance with the following requirements:
    1. encourage social distancing by all persons participating in the elections, including wherever possible encouraging the distance between people to be at least 1.5 metres, as far as reasonably practicable and avoiding handshaking; and
    2. encourage voters not to gather or linger in or around the polling booth before or after voting.
  2. For the local government election and State by-elections, political parties, their representatives, candidates and volunteers must display voting material statically at all polling booths and may not distribute or hand out voting material. In this paragraph, ‘voting material’, includes how-to-vote cards.
  3. For the local government election and State by-elections, representatives of political parties, candidates and volunteers must:
    1. maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from any other person, other than a family member or another person accompanying the representative, candidate or volunteer;
    2. avoid handshaking.

Directions to voters at polling places and persons accompanying voters

  1. For the local government election and State by-elections, a voter, or person accompanying a voter, at a polling place must:
    1. maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from any other person who is not accompanying the voter;
    2. avoid handshaking;
    3. not linger or gather in or around the polling place.

PART 2 — USE OF BUILDINGS OR PREMISES FOR ELECTION

The purpose of this Part is to make directions about the use of land, premises and buildings for the conduct of the 2020 quadrennial local government election under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 and State by-elections under the Electoral Act 1992.

These directions apply from the time of publication of the directions until the results of the local government election and State by-elections have been declared by the Electoral Commission of Queensland.

  1. This part applies to any person who owns, controls or operates land, premises or a building that would ordinarily be used as a polling booth or polling place for the conduct of the local government election or State by-elections.
  2. Despite any other Public Health Direction issued by the Chief Health Officer under section 362B of the Public Health Act 2005, any land, premises or building that would ordinarily be used as a polling booth or polling place, may be used as a polling booth or polling place for the conduct of the local government election or State by-elections.
    Examples – library, community centre, community hall, club, RSL club or PCYC
  3. Paragraph 2 applies despite any restrictions on the use of land, premises or building under the Non-essential business, activity and undertaking Closure Direction (No. 2) made on 26 March 2020.

Definitions

For the purposes of the directions in Parts 1 and 2:

  1. Candidate has the same meaning as in the Electoral Act 1992 for the state by-elections and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 for the local government election.
  2. Electoral Commission of Queensland is the commission established under the Electoral Act 1992.
  3. How-to-vote card has the same meaning as in the Electoral Act 1992 for the state by-elections and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 for the local government election.
  4. Local government election means the 2020 quadrennial local government election under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, to be held on 28 March 2020.
  5. Polling booth has the same meaning as in the Electoral Act 1992 for the state by-elections and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 for the local government election.
  6. Political party has the same meaning as in the Electoral Act 1992 for the state by-elections and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 for the local government election.
  7. State by-elections means the state by-elections in the seats of Bundamba and Currumbin under the Electoral Act 1992, to be held on 28 March 2020.
  8. Voter means a person voting at the state by-elections or the local government election.

PART 3 – PENALTIES

A person to whom the direction applies commits an offence if the person fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the direction.

Section 362D of the Public Health Act 2005 provides:

Failure to comply with public health directions

    A person to whom a public health direction applies must comply with the direction unless the person has a reasonable excuse.
    Maximum penalty—100 penalty units.

Dr Jeannette Young
Chief Health Officer
27 March 2020

Published on the Queensland Health website 27 March 2020, 6.00pm

Last updated: 27 March 2020