Become a local council candidate

To be a candidate for a local council election, you must:

  • be an Australian citizen
  • be aged 18 years of age
  • be enrolled on the voters' roll for the council in which you wish to stand
  • have completed the mandatory Local Government candidate training
  • not be disqualified from being a councillor.

You cannot be a candidate for any of the following reasons:

  • you are an undischarged bankrupt
  • you have property that is subject to control under the law relating to bankruptcy
  • you are a member of council staff of the council. You can take leave from this role in order to nominate
  • you have been convicted of any of the criminal offences referred to in section 34(2) of the Act
  • you are a councillor with another council, including interstate councils
  • you are member of an Australian parliament, including the federal Parliament or a member of parliament in any state or territory of the Commonwealth of Australia
  • you are employed by a federal or state member of parliament as a ministerial officer, a parliamentary adviser or an electorate officer. You can take leave from these roles in order to nominate
  • you are otherwise incapable of becoming or continuing to be a councillor.

Further details are outlined in the Local Government Act 2020.

Do candidates need to live in the area?

To become a candidate, you must be enrolled for the council in which you wish to stand.

If the council has wards, you can be a candidate for any ward in the council.

Find out more about enrolling in local council elections

Can candidates have a copy of the roll?

Following the close of nominations, you may request a free electronic copy of the roll for the election you are contesting to assist with campaigning.

We do not provide:

  • email addresses
  • phone numbers
  • details of silent electors.

You must declare that you will only use roll data for campaigning. You must also destroy or return copies of the roll within 30 days of the election day. Penalties apply for misusing roll information or failing to destroy or return roll information as required.

Funding and donations

There is no public funding for candidates in local council elections.

Within 40 days after election day, you must complete and submit an election donation return to the Chief Executive Officer of the council in which you nominated. The election donation return must either disclose gifts you receive in the lead up to an election or provide a statement that no gifts were received.

For more information, visit the Local Government Inspectorate's website:Election Campaign Donation Returns - Guidance material.

Please note that donation disclosure requirements for local council elections are different from those that apply to candidates at State elections.

What if there aren't enough candidates in an election?

If the number of candidates in an election is the same as the number of vacancies, those candidates are elected without the need for a vote. This is called being elected unopposed, or an uncontested election.

If there are fewer candidates than vacancies, the candidates who nominated are declared elected. A by-election is held at a future date to fill the remaining vacancies.

If nobody nominates as a candidate, no voting takes place and another election is held as soon as possible.

The ballot draw

The position of each candidate on the ballot paper is determined by a single computerised random draw for each council after nominations close.

The exception is Melbourne City Council, where the Leadership Team ballot is determined by a single randomised draw, and the councillors ballot is randomly drawn in two parts:

  • the order of the groups above the line
  • the order of the ungrouped candidates.

The computerised draw software has been independently audited and certified, determining that the draw is completely random. View the software component that generates the random order for the ballot.