The ECQ’s website notes that third parties should register as soon as possible to ensure they keep track of all spending.
Penalties for not registering can be as much as $26,690, but on Friday afternoon the ECQ said it would not take action.
“The ECQ has registered the Queensland Resources Council, after the entity submitted a registration form on its own initiative earlier today,” the ECQ said in a statement.
“As the QRC registered as a third party within 24 hours of being notified of the potential requirement and before polling day, the ECQ does not intend on taking further action at this point in time.”
On Friday morning, Mr Berkman issued a statement saying he believed the QRC had breached the electoral act “after failing to register and disclose thousands of dollars in campaign expenditure in their nasty attacks on the Greens”.
“The QRC appear to be so terrified of the Greens that they’re even willing to break the law just to try and stop us from making them pay their fair share in mining royalties,” he said.
The lobby group has been running a strong campaign against the Greens, including large billboards splashed across Brisbane’s CBD.
“If the Greens hold the balance of power after this election, Queensland jobs will go! Don’t risk it,” one advertisement says. “Put your job first, vote Greens last.”
The advertising campaign has been unpopular with BHP and Origin, both of which cut ties with the QRC over the advertising campaign.
Following the Greens’ complaint, the QRC contacted the ECQ for further advice and registered as a lobby group, saying the ECQ planned to update its definition of a third party to an individual or entity spending money “in support or opposition” during the election campaign.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane, a former federal Liberal minister, said the council would comply with its electoral requirements, including publishing the cost of advertising campaigns.
Mr Macfarlane said Queensland did not need a “one-issue party” like the Greens bent on making mining and gas companies financially unviable.
“The resources sector has been a life raft to Queensland during COVID-19 and it’s completely irresponsible for any party to be publicly advocating for it to be shut down,” he said.
But Mr Berkman said the QRC’s swift registration showed it had “effectively admitted they broke the law in running their dodgy campaign against the Greens”.
“The ECQ now must prosecute the QRC. The law is very clear, organisations must register and declare all electoral expenditure,” he said.
Electoral declarations show the QRC donated $9900 to the LNP on August 13 and $5500 to the Labor Party two days earlier.
Lucy is the urban affairs reporter for the Brisbane Times, with a special interest in Brisbane City Council.