Election Funding and Disclosure Report - Federal Election 2013: Election funding

Updated: 28 May 2014

Authority

Division 3 of Part XX of the Act provides for the payment of election funding to candidates who have contested an election for the House of Representatives or the Senate in a federal election and who have reached the threshold of first preference votes which attracts election funding payments. The relevant provisions for the purposes of this report are sections 294, 297 and 299. These sections are set out in full in Appendix C.

Operation of the relevant provisions

Entitlement

Section 294 provides a general entitlement to election funding for each first preference vote given for a candidate in a House of Representatives or Senate group election.

Election funding entitlements are calculated by multiplying the number of formal first preference votes received by relevant candidates or Senate groups by the funding rate applicable to the period in which an election is held.

Indexation is calculated in accordance with the provisions contained in s.321 of the Act.

For the 2013 election the funding rate was 248.800 cents per eligible vote.1

Election funding is an entitlement under the Act once the prescribed eligibility criteria have been met. The Act does not require those who have met the eligibility criteria to provide evidence that funds were either committed or spent in the running of an election campaign.

Eligibility

To be eligible to receive a payment of election funding a candidate for the House of Representatives must receive at least four per cent of the formal first preference votes cast in the electorate contested by that candidate (s.297(1)).

For a Senate group to be eligible the group as a whole must receive a total of at least four per cent of the formal first preference votes in the Senate election in the state or territory contested (s.297(2)).

Formal first preference votes cast in favour of candidates and/or Senate groups who fail to reach the four per cent threshold of total formal first preference votes are not eligible votes for the purpose of election funding. Votes rejected and declared as informal in the election concerned are also not eligible first preference votes (s.294(4)).

Election payment arrangements

Under s.287A a campaign committee of an endorsed candidate or endorsed group is to be treated as a division of the relevant State branch of the political party that endorsed the candidate or members of an endorsed group. The effect of this provision is to allow campaign committees to incur and recover electoral expenditure.

Under s.287B of the Act the registered officer of a registered political party can notify the AEC that they are choosing to be treated to a "designated federal party".2 This then allows the national body of the party to receive, under s.299(1)(bb) and s.299(4)(aab) respectively, the candidate and Senate group election funding entitlements on behalf of all of their State branches. This is an arrangement similar to that which exists for the Liberal Party under s.299(1)(b) and s.299(4)(aa).

Under s.299(1)(d) the payment of election funding entitlements of eligible candidates and Senate groups that were endorsed by registered political parties are made to the agent of the State or Territory branch of the party unless other arrangements, such as those detailed below, are in place for the redirection of those payments.

Section 299 includes specific provisions for the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Democrats under which payments for all State branches of those parties are to be paid to the federal body of the party. Similarly, the federal body of any party group can, under s.287B, apply to be treated as a 'designated federal party' so that payments for all State branches of those parties are paid to the federal party.

Under s.299A(1) political parties are entitled to receive their election funding by direct credit or cheque. Section 299A(2) requires that for an account to be eligible to receive election funding by direct credit, it must be operated by the party in Australia with an authorised deposit taking institution and held in the name of the party. Otherwise, payments are required by s.299A(1)(b) to be paid by cheque payable to the party.

Given the eligibility requirements under s.299A(2), the direct credit payment option is available only to political parties and not to independent candidates or independent Senate groups. Independent candidates and Senate groups, therefore, receive election funding payments by cheque.

Under s.299(1)(b) and s.299(4)(aa) respectively, candidate and Senate group election funding entitlements of all State branches of the Liberal Party of Australia may be paid to the party agent of the federal division of the party. Section 299(5E) enables the party agent of the Liberal Party to give to the AEC a written notice determining specified percentages of election funding payments which are to be paid between the federal party and a State branch.

Section 299(2) requires that payment of election funding for independent candidates or independent Senate groups must be made to the agent of the candidate. Under s.299(3) payment of election funding can be made to the agent of the Senate group. Where no candidate agent is appointed under s.289(3) a candidate is deemed to be their own agent. Where no agent is appointed for a Senate group,3 under s.289(4), the candidate listed first on the ballot paper is deemed to be the agent of the group.

Sections 299(4)(ac)(i), (ad)(i), (ae)(i) and (af)(i) allow for members of groups endorsed by 2 registered parties to divide payments for election funding into agreed shares as determined either by the agents of the relevant parties or, in the absence of a formal agreement, by the Electoral Commission. In accordance with the requirements of s.299(5) these agreements must be signed by relevant agents and lodged with the Commission before the 20th day after the election polling date.

Section 299(5A) allows the agents of two different political parties to lodge a notice with the AEC requesting that the entitlements of one party be paid to the other. Unlike other provisions under s.299, a notice under s.299(5A) is not limited to payments being redirected to the federal body of a political party but allows election funding payments to be redirected between any political parties, including, unrelated parties.

Subsection 299(5D)(a) requires the AEC to pay at least 95 per cent of the entitlement calculated on the basis of the votes counted as at the 20th day after polling day. The payment must be made as soon as possible after the 20th day. Any remaining balance must be paid as soon as possible once the amount of the full entitlement is known.

Section 299(5H) enables the party agent of a designated federal party to give to the AEC a written notice determining specified percentages of election funding payments which are to be paid between the party and a State branch.

Payments for the 2013 Election

Method of payment

No notice requesting payment of specified percentages between the federal and a State branch was lodged by the Liberal Party under s.299(5A) for the 2013 election. Therefore the full entitlements for the 2013 election were paid to the federal division of the Liberal Party in accordance with s.299(1)(b) and s.299(4)(aa).

The Family First Party and the Australian Labor Party were the only registered political parties for the 2013 election which advised the AEC that they were choosing to be treated as designated federal parties in respect of their election funding entitlements.

No notices were lodged under s.299(5A) requiring payment redirection between two different parties.

No notice was lodged for the 2013 election under s.299(5H) by either the Family First Party or the Australian Labor Party. Payment of election funding entitlements for these parties was made, in full, to the designated federal parties.

All payment redirection arrangements in place for the 2013 election specified that the entitlements of State branches of political parties were paid to the party agent of the federal body of the party.

The only Senate groups at the 2013 election that were endorsed by more than one registered political party were the joint Liberal Party and National Party Senate groups in New South Wales and Victoria. The New South Wales and Victorian joint Senate groups lodged agreements with the AEC on the 23 and 29 August 2013 respectively, in accordance with s.299(5). The effect of the lodged agreements was that election funding was paid according to agreed percentage shares between the State branches for the Senate elections held on 7 September 2013 in New South Wales and Victoria. Table 1 below lists the details of the agreed percentage shares.

Table 1: Joint Senate groups – percentage shares
State State branches Share of entitlement
New South Wales Liberal Party of Australia, NSW Division 75%
National Party of Australia – N.S.W. 25%
Victoria Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division) 81%
National Party of Australia – Victoria 19%

Candidates paid

For the 2013 election the AEC made election funding payments to nine independent candidates under s.299. Two of the nine candidates appointed candidate agents and therefore payments were made to the agent of the candidate in accordance with s.299(2). The remaining seven candidates were deemed to be their own agents under s.289(3) and therefore payments were made to the candidates directly.

Payment by cheque or credit

For the 2013 election the AEC made election funding payments to twenty-two registered political parties and nine independent candidates. Sixteen political parties which had nominated bank accounts which met the eligibility criteria under s.299(A)(2) chose to receive election funding by direct credit. The remaining six political parties and nine candidates received their election funding by cheque. The details of such payments are set out below in Table 2.

Table 2: Credit and cheque payments to political parties
Payment Parties
Direct credit Liberal Party of Australia
Australian Labor Party
National Party of Australia – N.S.W.
National Party of Australia – Victoria
National Party of Australia (WA) Inc.
National Party of Australia (S.A.) Inc.
The Greens NSW
Australian Greens, Victorian Branch
Queensland Greens
The Greens (WA) Inc
Tasmanian Greens
ACT Greens
Australian Greens, Northern Territory Branch
Liberal Democratic Party
Family First Party
Bullet Train for Australia
Cheque Country Liberals (Northern Territory)
Nick Xenophon Group
Palmer United Party
Katter's Australian Party
Australian Greens (South Australia)
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

Payments made

In administering s.299(5D)(a), which requires at least 95 per cent of the entitlement to be paid as soon as possible after the 20th day after polling day, the AEC's policy since the 2010 federal election has been to pay up to 99 per cent of each party's and candidate's funding entitlement calculated as at the 20th day after polling day and withhold the greater of one per cent or $200 from the first payment. This approach maximises the early release of funds to political parties and candidates while still withholding a sufficient proportion of the initial entitlement to effectively manage the risk of possible overpayments following the finalisation of the vote count.

The first payment totalling $56 367 240.38 was based on the vote count as at Friday 27 September 2013 and paid in the first week of October 2013. The final payment totalling $1 709 215.63 was made on 15 November 2013 following the recount of ballot papers for the seat of Fairfax and the Senate in Western Australia.

In accordance with s.299(5D)(b) of the Act, the final payment could not be made until the full entitlement was known at the finalisation of the counting of votes.

New Parties: eligibility for funding

A number of new parties were registered with the AEC between the 2010 and 2013 federal elections. Of these the following parties qualified for election funding at the 2013 election:

  • Palmer United Party
  • Nick Xenophon Group
  • Katter's Australian Party; and
  • Bullet Train for Australia.

Table 3 provides a list of the election funding payments distributed to the registered parties including new parties and independent candidates, listed in order of largest to smallest amount paid.

Table 3: Summary of payments – 2013 election
Recipients First Payment ($) Final Payment ($) Total Payment ($)
Parties
Liberal Party of Australia 23 103 312.83 781 360.11 23 884 672.94
Australian Labor Partya 20 195 147.98 579 542.57 20 774 690.55
Australian Greens 5 356 184.97 175 686.48 5 531 871.45
National Party of Australiab 3 076 611.83 34 460.68 3 111 072.51
Palmer United Party 2 202 044.07 110 765.91 2 312 809.98
Liberal Democratic Party 1 033 845.36 12 649.74 1 046 495.10
Nick Xenophon Group 636 127.83 6 711.66 642 839.49
Country Liberals (Northern Territory) 207 512.94 2 098.57 209 611.51
Katter's Australian Party 166 711.35 1 664.05 168 375.40
Family First 103 724.45 1 042.74 104 767.19
Bullet Train for Australia 24 283.90 235.34 24 519.24
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) 8 654.79 200.00 8 854.79
Independent candidates
Catherine McGowan (Indi, Victoria) 68 381.14 693.20  69 074.34
Andrew Wilkie (Denison, Tasmania) 60 802.12 621.62 61 423.74
Robert Taber (New England, New South Wales) 30 968.80 315.31 31 284.11
Lawrie McKinna (Robertson, New South Wales 19 136.74 177.60 19 314.34
Nathan Bracken (Dobell, New South Wales) 17 439.92 200.00 17 639.92
Richard Sage (Barker, South Australia) 16 263.10 200.00 16 463.10
Stephen Attkins (Lyne, New South Wales) 16 123.77 200.00 16 323.77
Jamie McIntyre (New England, NSW 14 884.74 190.05 15 074.79
Mark Aldridge (Wakefield, South Australia) 9 077.75 200.00 9 277.75
Total 56 367 240.38 1 709 215.63 58 076 456.01
  1. a Includes entitlement for Country Labor Party (NSW).
  2. b The amounts reflect the relevant share agreed by the parties for joint Senate groups run in New South Wales and Victoria (75% for Liberal and 25% for National parties in NSW with 81% for Liberal and 19% for National parties in Victoria).

Table 4 sets out the distribution of the election funding payments to registered political parties by State and Territory.

Table 4: Distribution of funding – registered political parties by State and Territory
  Number of votes Election funding amount ($) Total
House Senate House Senate
Liberal Party of Australia
New South Wales 1 551 436 1 496 752 3 859 972.77 2 792 939.23 6 652 912.00
Victoria 1 320 417 1 357 153 3 285 197.50 2 735 043.30 6 020 240.80
Queensland 1 152 217 1 084 299 2 866 715.90 2 697 735.91 5 564 451.81
Western Australia 599 153 513 639 1 490 692.66 1 277 933.83 2 768 626.49
South Australia 447 286 285 058 1 112 847.57 709 224.30 1 822 071.87
Tasmania 132 961 126 400 330 806.97 314 483.20 645 290.17
ACT 83 612 81 613 208 026.66 203 053.14 411 079.80
TOTAL 5 287 082 4 944 914 13 154 260.03 10 730 412.91 23 884 672.94
Australian Labor Party
New South Wales 1 358 546 1 381 047 3 380 062.45 3 436 044.94 6 816 107.39
Victoria 1 146 894 1 097 255 2 853 472.27 2 729 970.44 5 583 442.71
Queensland 751 230 747 096 1 869 060.24 1 858 774.85 3 727 835.09
Western Australia 364 252 348 401 906 258.98 866 821.69 1 773 080.67
South Australia 359 273 235 312 893 871.22 585 456.26 1 479 327.48
Tasmania 114 977 110 617 286 062.78 275 215.10 561 277.88
ACT 103 676 84 974 257 945.89 211 415.31 469 361.20
Northern Territory 37 221 33 889 92 605.85 84 315.83 176 921.68
Country Labor 75 296 N/A 187 336.45 N/A 187 336.45
TOTAL 4 311 365 4 038 591 10 726 676.13 10 048 014.42 20 774 690.55
National Party of Australia
New South Wales 414 772 1 496 752 1 031 952.74 930 979.74 1 962 932.48
Victoria 85 447 1 357 153 212 592.14 641 553.37 854 145.51
Western Australia 47 723 66 421 118 734.82 165 255.45 283 990.27
South Australia 4 021 0 10 004.25 0.00 10 004.25
TOTAL 551 963 2 920 326 1 373 283.95 1 737 788.56 3 111 072.51
Country Liberals
Northern Territory 41 468 42 781 103 172.38 106 439.13 209 611.51
TOTAL 41 468 42 781 103 172.38 106 439.13 209 611.51
Australian Greens
New South Wales 308 787 340 941 768 262.06 848 261.21 1 616 523.27
Victoria 343 066 366 720 853 548.21 912 399.36 1 765 947.57
Queensland 140 983 158 150 350 765.70 393 477.20 744 242.90
Western Australia 123 370 124 354 306 944.56 309 392.75 616 337.31
South Australia 79 963 73 612 198 947.94 183 146.66 382 094.60
Tasmania 27 467 39 284 68 337.90 97 738.59 166 076.49
ACT 32 356 47 553 80 501.73 118 311.86 198 813.59
Northern Territory 7 841 8 974 19 508.41 22 327.31 41 835.72
TOTAL 1 063 833 1 159 588 2 646 816.51 2 885 054.94 5 531 871.45
Palmer United Party
New South Wales 133 662 0 332 551.06 0.00 332 551.06
Victoria 63 686 0 158 450.77 0.00 158 450.77
Queensland 275 222 258 944 684 752.34 644 252.67 1 329 005.01
Western Australia 58 747 65 595 146 162.54 163 200.36 309 362.90
South Australia 21 101 0 52 499.29 0.00 52 499.29
Tasmania 18 450 22 184 45 903.60 55 193.79 101 097.39
Northern Territory 4 609 7 386 11 467.19 18 376.37 29 843.56
TOTAL 575 477 354 109 1 431 786.79 881 023.19 2 312 809.98
Family First
South Australia 42 109 0 104 767.19 0.00 104 767.19
TOTAL 42 109 0 104 767.19 0.00 104 767.19
Nick Xenophon Group
South Australia N/A 258 376 N/A 642 839.49 642 839.49
TOTAL N/A 258 376 N/A 642 839.49 642 839.49
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
New South Wales 3 559 0 8 854.79 0.00 8 854.79
TOTAL 3 559 0 8 854.79 0.00 8 854.79
Katter's Australian Party
Queensland 67 675 0 168 375.40 0.00 168 375.40
TOTAL 67 675 0 168 375.40 0.00 168 375.40
Bullet Train for Australia
ACT 9 855 0 24 519.24 0.00 24 519.24
TOTAL 9 855 0 24 519.24 0.00 24 519.24
Liberal Democratic Party
New South Wales 0 415 901 0.00 1 034 761.69 1 034 761.69
Victoria 4 716 0 11 733.41 0.00 11 733.41
TOTAL 4 716 415 901 11 733.41 1 034 761.69 1 046 495.10

Table 5 provides a percentage breakdown of the total amount received by parties/candidates between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Table 5: Breakdown of payments by House of Parliament – 2013 election
Recipients   Election funding amount ($) Total ($) House of Reps % Senate %
House of Reps Senate
Liberal Party of Australia 13 154 260.03 10 730 412.91 23 884 672.94 55 45
Australian Labor Party 10 726 676.13 10 048 014.42 20 774 690.55 52 48
Australian Greens 2 646 816.51 2 885 054.94 5 531 871.45 48 52
National Party of Australia 1 373 283.95 1 737 788.56 3 111 072.51 44 56
Palmer United Party 1 431 786.79 881 023.19 2 312 809.98 62 38
Liberal Democratic Party 11 733.41 1 034 761.69 1 046 495.10 1 99
Nick Xenophon Group N/A 642 839.49 642 839.49 NA 100
Country Liberals Northern Territory 103 172.38 106 439.13 209 611.51 49 51
Katter's Australian Party 168 375.40 N/A 168 375.40 100 N/A
Family First 104 767.19 N/A 104 767.19 100 N/A
Bullet Train for Australia 24 519.24 N/A 24 519.24 100 N/A
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) 8 854.79 N/A 8 854.79 100 N/A
Independent candidates 255 875.86 N/A 255 875.86 100 N/A
Total 30 010 121.68 28 066 334.33 58 076 456.01 52 48

Compensation following the voiding of the Western Australia Senate election

Following the order of the High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns on 20 February 2014 to void the result of the Western Australia Senate election held on 7 September 2013, the AEC sought approval from the Special Minister of State to make payments to affected parties under the Scheme for Compensation for Detriment caused by Defective Administration (the CDDA Scheme). The AEC sought to pay compensation for the loss of nomination fees and election funding. The Special Minister of State, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, approved the payment of compensation under the CDDA Scheme on 3 March 2014. The CDDA Scheme payments to the relevant three parties affected were paid on 13 March 2014 by direct deposit into the respective bank accounts nominated by them.

Compensation for election funding was based upon the first preference votes recorded for each of the lost 1 370 ballot papers based on the original vote count. Not all of the lost votes were eligible for the payment of election funding, with a number of votes having been cast for Senate groups that did not reach the 4% threshold to qualify for payment of election funding. Furthermore, not all parties that were paid election funding from the votes cast at the Western Australia Senate election gained first preference votes amongst the 1 370 ballot papers lost and therefore did not suffer any detriment from the loss of those votes.

In total, 1 162 of the 1 370 ballot papers would have been counted towards the payment of election funding entitlements. This amounted to a total of $2 891.06. Table 6 provides details of the compensation payments made under the CDDA Scheme.

Table 6: Payments made under the CDDA Scheme
Recipient Votes Payment ($)
Liberal Party of Australia 886 2 204.37
Australian Labor Party (ALP) 164 408.03
The Greens (WA) Inc 112 278.66
Total 1 162 2 891.06

  1. This represents an increase of 7.6% compared to the 2010 federal election funding rate of 231.191 cents per eligible vote.
  2. Section 287B of the Act defines designated federal party as a registered political party, other than the Liberal Party, that has two or more State branches and has lodged a written notice with the AEC choosing to be treated as a designated federal party.
  3. Under s.289(2A) where all members of a Senate group have been endorsed by the same registered political party, the agent of the relevant State branch of the party is deemed to be the agent for the group.