Skip links and keyboard navigation

Ruling 3/2023 – Use of the Electorate and Communication Allowance (ECA) for disseminating information regarding a referendum

Issued 24 April 2023

Section 36 of the Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal Act 2013 provides that the Clerk of the Parliament (the Clerk) may, by written notice, ask the Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal to give a ruling on the interpretation or application of a determination as soon as practicable after the request is made.

The Clerk sought a ruling in relation to the use by Members of Parliament (Members) of the ECA to acquit expenses relating to dissemination of information regarding the upcoming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice Referendum (the Voice referendum).

Ruling: Members cannot use their ECA to acquit expenditure relating to dissemination of information regarding a referendum, including the Voice referendum, whether the information advocates a particular position or not.

Explanation: In Determination 1/2013, the Tribunal approved the purposes for which the then Electorate Allowance and the Information and Communication Allowance were to be used. These types of allowances were combined into ECA in Determination 9/2015, and the approved purposes remained substantially the same. The ECA is provided to cover a range of expenditure associated with:

  1. providing constituent assistance and service for the electorate
  2. obtaining and disseminating information to constituents that is relevant to fulfilling parliamentary and constituency responsibilities
  3. meeting incidental costs relating to the operation of a member's electorate office.

The ECA may not be used to meet expenditure for:

  1. private or commercial purposes
  2. political party activity
  3. electioneering and campaigning purposes
  4. to purchase goods and services where the member, or a connected party is the provider of the goods and services.

The Tribunal is of the view that a Federal referendum such as the Voice referendum is not within the purview of State Members’ parliamentary and constituency responsibilities.

Date of ruling: 24 April 2023

Last updated:
24 April, 2023
Last reviewed:
24 April, 2023