Electoral Pocketbook 2011 - 3 The electoral process

Updated: 15 June 2011

3.8 Election funding and financial disclosure

The funding and disclosure provisions of the Act have been in operation since the 1984 election. They comprise two main components:

  • public funding of election campaigns, and
  • disclosure of certain financial details by candidates, registered political parties and other persons and groups (returns are submitted to the AEC).

Payment procedures

Election funding is paid in two stages. First, the AEC calculates the amount of election funding due based on the number of votes counted at the 20th day after election day and pays at least 95% of that amount. Second, once the vote counting is finalised, the AEC pays the remainder of the amount of election funding due. The total election funding paid at the 2010 federal election was $53 163 385.36.

For candidates and Senate groups endorsed by registered political parties, payments are made directly to their parties. Unendorsed candidates and Senate groups receive their payments direct, unless they have appointed an agent who is to receive the payment.

Total election funding payments for the 2010 federal election
Name Interim Payment $ Final Payment $ Total Payment $
Parties
Australian Labor Party 20 935 323.18 290 546.78 21 225 869.96
Liberal Party of Australia* 20 819 820.08 278 040.16 21 097 860.24
Australian Greens 7 086 053.13 126 870.25 7 212 923.38
National Party of Australia 2 441 843.88 43 856.28 2 485 700.16
Family First 403 122.45 4 145.92 407 268.37
Country Liberals (NT) 177 617.04 1 794.11 179 411.15
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) 17 407.51 202.31 17 609.82
Australian Sex Party 11 197.72 200.00 11 397.72
Liberal Democratic Party 11 116.80 200.00 11 316.80
Shooters and Fishers Party 10 527.26 200.00 10 727.26
Independent Candidates
Tony Windsor (New England, NSW) 129 099.25 1 327.15 130 426.40
Robert Oakeshott (Lyne, NSW) 91 691.26 926.17 92 617.43
Bob Katter (Kennedy, Qld) 87 383.75 861.85 88 245.60
Andrew Wilkie (Denison, Tas.) 31 557.85 318.77 31 876.62
Louise Burge(Farrer, NSW) 21 400.20 216.16 21 616.36
John Clements (Parkes, NSW) 20 933.28 211.45 21 144.73
John Arkan (Cowper, NSW) 19 326.39 200.00 19 526.39
Michael Johnson (Ryan, Qld) 17 284.98 200.00 17 484.98
Matthew Hogg (Riverina, NSW) 11 710.96 190.75 11 901.71
Alan Lappin (Indi, Vic.) 11 239.33 193.06 11 432.39
James Purcell (Wannon, Vic.) 10 564.25 190.76 10 755.01
Charles Nason (Maranoa, Qld) 10 427.85 200.00 10 627.85
Paul Blanch (Calare, NSW) 9 364.37 200.00 9 564.37
Katrina Rainsford (Wannon, Vic.) 9 200.23 200.00 9 400.23
Bradley King (Blair, Qld) 7 353.01 200.00 7 553.01
Deidre Finter (Lingiari, NT) 4 511.67 200.00 4 711.67
Kenneth Lechleitner (Lingiari, NT) 4 213.44 202.31 4 415.75
TOTAL ELECTION FUNDING PAID 52 411 291.12 752 094.24 53 163 385.36

* Liberal National Party of Queensland election funding payments are included with the Liberal Party of Australia figures

Election financial disclosures

Following an election, key participants in the electoral process are required to lodge with the AEC various returns disclosing certain election campaign transactions.

Summary of election returns
Participant Type of return Timeframe Due date
Candidates donations received and electoral expenditure within 15 weeks after election day by 6 December 2010
Senate groups donations received and electoral expenditure within 15 weeks after election day by 6 December 2010
Donors details of donations received, and donations made to candidates within 15 weeks after election day by 6 December 2010

All these returns are available for public inspection 24 weeks after election day. For the 2010 federal election that was from Monday 7 February 2011.

The AEC is required under subsection 17(2) of the Act to prepare a separate report for the Minister on the operations of the funding and disclosure provisions in relation to the 2010 federal election. Once tabled in parliament, this report will be available on the AEC website.

Annual financial disclosures

All registered political parties and each state or territory branch of a registered political party must submit an annual return to the AEC within 16 weeks of the close of the financial year. The return must show the total amount received, and the total amount paid, during the financial year and the total of outstanding debts as at 30 June. The names and addresses of persons from whom the party received, or to whom the party owed, more than the threshold, must also be disclosed.

Entities that are controlled by, or operate mainly for the benefit of, a registered political party must submit an annual return to the AEC within 16 weeks of the close of the financial year. Associated entities must disclose receipts, payments and debts in the same manner as political parties, and may additionally be required to disclose sources of capital deposits.

Persons or organisations that donated more than the threshold to a political party in the course of a financial year must submit an annual return to the AEC within 20 weeks of the close of the financial year detailing each donation.

Additionally, persons or organisations incurring more than the threshold of political expenditure are required to lodge an annual return within 20 weeks of the end of the financial year. These returns disclose totals of specified political expenditure incurred, as well as donations received.

Note: Recent thresholds for financial disclosure are:

  • 2010–11, $11 500
  • 2009–10, $11 200
  • 2008–09, $10 900
  • 2007–08, $10 500

Registered political parties

Parties that register may have their party names printed on the ballot papers next to their candidates and must also fulfil legislative requirements under the funding and disclosure provisions of the Act.

For federal elections, the register is closed from the day the writ is issued. For the 2010 federal election the register closed on 19 July 2010 with 25 separate political parties registered, plus an additional 24 branches from the four major parties.

Of these, 25 fielded candidates in the 2010 federal election. This compares with 46 parties who fielded candidates at the 2007 federal election.