Candidates Handbook: Nominations

Updated: 19 May 2016

The Act

  • Part XIII, 'Writs for elections'
  • Part XIV, 'The nominations'

The Constitution

  • s.43 and s.44

Candidates can nominate anytime from the issue of the writ until close of nominations. This section explains the nomination process, including:

  • information about who is qualified to nominate,
  • important issues relating to the timing of nominations, and
  • different rules for single and bulk nominations.

For your nomination to be accepted you must pay a nomination deposit in the approved format and properly complete and sign the nomination form.

You are encouraged to lodge your nomination as early as possible within the specified timeframe.

Further information on nominations can be found on the AEC website.

Candidate briefing sessions

Candidate briefing sessions are held by state and divisional offices before and after the close of nominations to provide candidates with information about the polling process and to outline their rights and responsibilities as a candidate in an election. Candidates may attend themselves or send a representative. At these sessions, information packs containing a variety of materials will be available.

For information on dates and time of briefing sessions:

  • candidates for the House of Representatives should contact the division for which they are nominating.
  • candidates for the Senate should contact the relevant AEC state office in the state where they are nominating as a candidate.

Who can nominate as a candidate?

The Act, s.163 and s.164, the Constitution s.43

The qualifications for nominating as a candidate for the House of Representatives or the Senate are the same. To nominate for election to either the House of Representatives or the Senate, you must be:

  • at least 18 years old,
  • an Australian citizen, and
  • either enrolled or eligible to be enrolled on the Commonwealth electoral roll.

A member of the House of Representatives or Senate cannot be chosen or sit as a member of the other House of Parliament.

You cannot nominate for the House of Representatives or Senate if you:

  • are currently a member of a state parliament or a territory legislative assembly and have not resigned before the hour of nomination (i.e. 12 noon on the day nominations close). As state and territory laws govern the manner of resignation, intending candidates should make sure their resignations are effective before the hour of nomination.
  • are disqualified by section 44 of the Constitution.

Disqualification under the Constitution

Section 44 of the Constitution disqualifies certain people from being elected to the Commonwealth Parliament. Section 44 of the Constitution is reproduced below.

44. Any person who –

  1. is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or
  2. is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer; or
  3. is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent; or
  4. holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth; or
  5. has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons;
  6. shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

But subsection (iv) does not apply to the office of any of the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen's Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half-pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen's navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.

The Act, s.36

No candidate may be appointed as an electoral officer of any description, either as a permanent officer or as a polling official. If an electoral officer becomes a candidate, they must vacate the office.

For more information see the Electoral Backgrounder on Constitutional Disqualifications and Intending Candidates, which is available on the AEC website or from AEC national and state offices.

'Office of profit' disqualification

In its November 1992 decision in the case of Sykes v. Cleary, the High Court voided the election of Mr Phil Cleary as member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Wills. Mr Cleary was disqualified from being chosen as a member under section 44(iv) of the Constitution on the grounds that, as a Victorian state school teacher on leave without pay, he held an 'office of profit' under the Crown. This case has been approved in subsequent High Court applications.

If you are a Commonwealth, state or territory public servant and wish to nominate for election to the Commonwealth Parliament, you should resign before nomination in order to comply with the Constitution. Conditions of re-entry to the various public services by unsuccessful candidates are matters for the relevant public service authority.

Commonwealth public servants who resign to contest an election and who are unsuccessful may apply for re-appointment or re-engagement under section 32 of the Public Service Act 1999. A former officer or former temporary employee is required to be re-appointed or re-engaged subject to certain conditions.

Most states and territories have comparable statutory or administrative provisions. The position of local government employees is not clear and it might be that such persons are vulnerable to the office of profit disqualification. Section 327(3) of the Act provides some protection for local government employees who become, are, or have been candidates. If you are a local government employee you should check with the relevant authorities before resigning or nominating.

The Constitutional disqualification on the ground of 'office of profit' applies to permanent members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). If you are a member of the ADF you should consult the relevant Defence authority on conditions of resignation and re-entry.

'Foreign allegiance' disqualification

In the Sykes v. Cleary decision the High Court also commented on the 'foreign allegiance' disqualification in section 44(i) of the Constitution. The majority view of the Court was that naturalised Australian citizens who also have foreign citizenship and are standing as candidates should take 'reasonable steps to renounce foreign nationality'. The steps to take for renunciation may depend upon foreign law. If you have foreign citizenship you should check with the relevant embassy or high commission about the procedures for renouncing it.

In the case of Sue v. Hill in June 1999 the High Court decided that Ms Heather Hill was not duly elected as a senator for Queensland at the 1998 federal election because she was disqualified under section 44(i) of the Constitution. Ms Hill was a British subject and an Australian citizen at the time of her nomination. The United Kingdom is regarded as a 'foreign power' for the purposes of section 44(i).

You are required to sign a declaration on the nomination form that you are qualified under the Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth to be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament.

If you have any doubts as to your qualifications under the Constitution, the AEC recommends you seek your own legal advice. The AEC does not provide legal advice to prospective candidates.

When can I nominate?

You cannot nominate as a candidate until the writ for the election has been issued. The writ is deemed to have been issued at 6pm on the day on which it is issued. The intention to hold an election is often announced some days before the writ is issued. If you are unsure, check with an AEC office or visit the AEC website.

The date fixed for the close of nominations will be between 10 days and 27 days after the issue of the writ and this date is specified in the writ. The AEC advertises the dates from the writ within major newspapers circulating in the relevant state or territory. Also, after the election is announced, an election timetable as outlined in the writ is published on the AEC website.

You can nominate as a candidate during AEC business hours any time after the writ is issued up to 12 noon on the day nominations close. Single nominations for the House of Representatives must be lodged with the relevant DRO by 12 noon on the day nominations close. Bulk nominations of candidates endorsed by a political party for the House of Representatives must be lodged with the relevant AEO not less than 48 hours before the close of nominations. All Senate nominations must be lodged with the relevant AEO before the close of nominations.

Nominations lodged with another officer or at another place cannot be accepted.

You are advised to lodge your nomination before the day nominations close. Late nominations cannot be accepted under any circumstances.

Nomination forms

There are several different options when nominating for the House of Representatives or the Senate, each option using a different nomination form. You need to complete the nomination form for the relevant option, as well as an individual candidate details form (Form 59 or Form 60) for each candidate nominated.

Note: for elections held on the same day, you can only nominate for one House of Representatives division, or for the Senate in only one state or territory. If you nominate more than once all your nominations will be invalid.

Blank nomination forms for the House of Representatives and the Senate are available from AEC offices or by phoning the AEC on 13 23 26. Once the writ for the election has been issued, the forms will also be available on the AEC website.

It is against the law to include false or misleading information in a nomination form. Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence. In addition, you must not omit any information if omitting that information would be misleading. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 12 months.

All nomination papers are publicly produced at declaration time (12 noon on the day after nominations close) and the relevant AEO or DRO declares the name and address of candidates (address details for a candidate who is a silent elector will not be released or declared). All other contact information for candidates, which they have indicated is not for public release, will be removed from a candidate's form before it is produced at the time of declaration.

Information listed for public release is also published on the AEC website during the election period. It should be remembered that the media and the public use this publicly available contact information to reach candidates for information about their candidature. All nomination forms are destroyed only after the next election.

House of Representatives nomination forms

All House of Representatives candidates must submit two separate nomination forms to the AEC, being:

  1. a Form 60 'Nomination of a Member of the House of Representatives'; and
  2. as applicable, only one of the following three forms:
    1. Form 60-a – Bulk nomination – endorsed candidate
    2. Form 60-b – Single nomination – endorsed candidate
    3. Form 60-c – Single nomination of unendorsed candidate or incumbent independent

A description of each nomination form is set out below.

Form 60 Nomination of a member of the House of Representatives

Includes all candidate details for nomination of a member of House of Representatives. This form must be accompanied by Nomination of a member of the House of Representatives forms 60a–60c.

PLUS

Form 60-a Bulk nomination – endorsed candidate

Where a registered political party nominates all its House of Representatives candidates in a particular state or territory at one time.

OR

Form 60-b Single nomination – endorsed candidate

Where an individual candidate is endorsed by a registered political party and nominated by the registered officer of the political party.

OR

Form 60-c Single nomination of unendorsed candidate or incumbent independent

Where an individual candidate stands as an independent or is an incumbent independent candidate.

Senate nomination forms

All Senate candidates must submit two separate nomination forms to the AEC, being:

  1. a Form 59 'Nomination of a Senator'; and
  2. as applicable, one of the following five forms:
    1. Form 59-a – Multiple party group nomination by registered officer
    2. Form 59-b – Group Nomination by registered officer
    3. Form 59-c – Group of unendorsed candidates nomination
    4. Form 59-d – Single nomination by registered officer
    5. Form 59-e – Single nomination by 100 electors

In addition to the above, unendorsed candidates who wish to form a group must complete Form 59 and Form 59-e for each candidate nominated as well as Form 59-c for the group nomination.

A description of each nomination form is set out below.

Form 59 Nomination of a senator

Includes all candidate details for nomination of a senator.

PLUS

Form 59-a Multiple party group nomination by registered officer

Where two or more candidates nominate as a group endorsed by multiple registered parties and are nominated by the parties' registered officers.

OR

Form 59-b Group nomination by registered officer

Where two or more candidates nominate as a group and are nominated by the registered officer of a political party.

OR

Form 59-c Group of unendorsed candidates

Where two or more candidates nominate as a group.

OR

Form 59-d Single nomination by registered officer

Where an individual candidate nominates as a single candidate and is nominated by the registered officer of a political party.

OR

Form 59-e Single nomination by 100 electors

Where an individual candidate nominates as a single candidate or is an incumbent independent candidate.

Nomination by a party

The Act, s.4C, s.166 and s.169

If you are endorsed by a registered political party, the relevant nomination form should include verification of your endorsement by the registered officer of the party. The registered officer and the deputy registered officer of a registered political party have equal powers in relation to the nomination process.

If a registered officer nominates you, they may request on the relevant nomination form that the party's registered name or abbreviation and registered logo be printed on the ballot paper next to your name. If you are part of a Senate group, the registered officer may request to have the party name or abbreviation printed next to the above the line box. Political parties with a registered logo can request to have no more than two logos to appear adjacent to their party or group name above the line on the Senate ballot paper.

Alternatively, the registered officer may provide these details in writing to the appropriate AEO or DRO before the close of nominations.

A registered party may not nominate more than one candidate for the same House of Representatives division.

Nomination by eligible electors

If you are not endorsed by a party you must be nominated by eligible electors; that is, people who are entitled to vote at the election for which you are standing.

House of Representatives nominations

The electors who nominate a House of Representatives candidate must be enrolled for the division for which the candidate is standing. The names, addresses and signatures of the electors are recorded on Form 60-c: Single nomination of unendorsed candidate by eligible electors.

Note: It is advised to obtain the names of more than the required number of electors in case after the checking process, some are found not to be enrolled in that division.

Senate nominations

The electors who nominate a Senate candidate must be enrolled for the state or territory for which the candidate is standing. The names, addresses and signatures of the electors are recorded on Form 59-e: Single nomination by eligible electors.

Note: It is advised to obtain the names of more than the required number of electors in case after the checking process, some are found not to be enrolled in that state or territory.

The Public Access Terminal at any AEC divisional office can be used to check names for enrolment details prior to submitting your nomination.

You should not leave lodging your nomination to the last minute as any defects in your nomination cannot be corrected after the nominations deadline.

Personal information

When nominating for either the House of Representatives or the Senate, you must set out the following personal information on the relevant nomination form:

  • Form 60: Nomination of a Member of the House of Representatives, or
  • Form 59: Nomination of a Senator.

Your name

Your name must be specified on the form and must include either:

  • your surname or family name and one or more of the given names under which you are enrolled, or
  • if you are not enrolled, a surname or family name and one or more of the given names under which you are entitled to be enrolled.

A given name may be specified by either:

  • an initial standing for that name, or
  • a commonly accepted variation of that name (including an abbreviation or truncation of that name or an alternative form of that name).

The nomination must also include a statement of the form in which your given name is to be printed on the ballot paper.

For example a person enrolled as Catherine Citizen must complete the nomination form in that name. However, she may request that 'Cate' Citizen be used on the ballot paper as that is a commonly accepted variation of her name.

Your place of residence

If you are a 'silent elector', you are not required to set out your residential address on the nomination form, but you must supply the DRO or AEO (as appropriate) with an address. This address may be a postal address and it is not made public.

Your occupation details

The Act requires these details to be provided.

Your contact details

You must provide contact details on the nomination form, but you can ask that some or all of these details not be publicly released.

Note: Nomination forms will be publicly produced at the declaration of nominations, however the address details for a candidate who is a silent elector will not be released or declared. For all other candidates the address details will be made available, however contact details which candidates have indicated are not for public release will be removed from all nomination forms. Information indicated as being for public release is also published on the AEC website. It should be remembered that the media and the public use this publicly available contact information to reach candidates for information about their candidature.

Declaration

You must sign a declaration on the nomination form that you:

  • are an Australian citizen,
  • are at least 18 years of age,
  • are an elector or qualified to be an elector,
  • are qualified under the Constitution and other laws of the Commonwealth,
  • are not and do not intend to be a candidate in any other election on the same day, and
  • consent to act if elected.

Electoral officers are not generally empowered to question, challenge or provide advice on the declaration made by an intending candidate on the nomination form.

House of Representatives nominations

A person can nominate for election to the House of Representatives as a candidate endorsed by a registered political party or as an unendorsed candidate.

The registered officer of a registered political party may make a bulk nomination of all the party's endorsed House of Representatives candidates for a particular state or territory at one time. Political parties with a registered logo can request to have their party logo appear adjacent to their candidate names on the House of Representatives ballot paper.

A candidate may have the word 'Independent' printed beside their name when nominating as an independent candidate.

If you are an incumbent member of the House of Representatives and you were elected as an unendorsed candidate at your previous election, and you are not endorsed by a registered political party, then Form 60-c: Single nomination of unendorsed candidate need only be signed by one person (other than the candidate) entitled to vote at the election.

Bulk nominations

Each of the candidates included in a bulk nomination must complete a separate copy of Form 60: Nomination of a Member of the House of Representatives.

Bulk nominations must be received by the AEO for the relevant state or territory not less than 48 hours before the close of nominations.

If a party chooses to lodge a bulk nomination, it must include all the House of Representatives candidates that the party is endorsing for the particular state or territory.

If a party lodges a bulk nomination and a single nomination for a candidate endorsed by the same party is also lodged, the bulk nomination of all that party's candidates will be invalidated. This applies whether the candidate was included in the bulk nomination or not.

If a candidate who was included in a bulk nomination withdraws or dies after the cut-off date for bulk nominations and before the close of nominations, the nomination of the other candidates in the bulk nomination is not affected. The registered officer may substitute a new candidate at any time before the close of nominations.

Senate nominations

A candidate nominating for election to the Senate may be endorsed by a registered political party or may nominate as an unendorsed candidate.

Unendorsed candidates may nominate individually or as part of a group with other unendorsed candidates.

Nominating as a Senate candidate

When nominating endorsed candidates the registered officer:

  • must nominate endorsed party candidates, or verify a candidate's party endorsement,
  • must specify the ballot paper order of the candidates' names in the group,
  • may request that the party name or abbreviation appear beside a candidate's name on the ballot paper,
  • may request that the party logo be printed on the ballot paper if it has one entered in the Register of Political Parties, and
  • may request that the name of the party be printed on the ballot paper beside the group voting square. Alternatively if the candidates are endorsed by more than one party, the registered officer may request that a composite name of the party names or abbreviations be printed beside the group voting square.

When nominating as an unendorsed group using Form 59-c, the candidates specify the ballot paper order of the candidates' names in the group.

Each candidate in a group nomination must make a request on their nomination form for their name to be included in a group on the Senate ballot paper. They must complete an individual copy of Form 59: Nomination of a Senator and if the candidates is not endorsed also complete Form 59-c: Group of unendorsed candidates and Form 59-e: Nomination by 100 electors.

Grouped candidates not endorsed by a political party cannot have the word 'Independent' printed next to their names or against their box above the line.

A candidate may have the word 'Independent' printed beside their name on the ballot paper when nominating as an ungrouped (single) and unendorsed candidate.

The Act, s.166(1C)

If you are an incumbent senator and you were elected as an unendorsed candidate at your previous election, and you are not endorsed by a registered political party, then Form 59-e: Single nomination need only be signed by one person (other than the candidate) entitled to vote at the election.

Nomination deposit

Each nomination for the House of Representatives and the Senate must be accompanied by a deposit paid by legal tender (cash) or a cheque drawn by a bank or other financial institution on itself. Cheques for nomination deposits should be made out to the Australian Electoral Commission. Money orders, electronic funds transfers, credit cards, personal cheques and other business cheques cannot be accepted.

A deposit is required for each House of Representatives candidate and for each Senate candidate.

For bulk nominations both the nomination form and the deposit must be received not less than 48 hours before the close of nominations.

For other nominations both the nomination form and deposit must be received before 12 noon on the day nominations close.

Return of deposit

The deposit for a House of Representatives candidate will be returned to the person who paid it or someone authorised by that person in writing if:

  • the candidate is elected, or
  • the unsuccessful candidate's total number of first preference votes is at least four per cent of the total number of formal first preference votes cast for all candidates in that division.

The deposit for a Senate candidate will be returned to the person who paid it or someone authorised by that person in writing if:

  • the candidate is elected, or
  • in the case of an ungrouped candidate, the unsuccessful candidate's total number of first preference votes is at least four per cent of the total number of formal first preference votes cast for all candidates in that state or territory, or
  • where the unsuccessful candidate's name is included in a group, the sum of the first preference votes received by all the candidates in the group is at least four per cent of the total number of formal first preference votes in that state or territory.

All unsuccessful candidates not meeting these criteria forfeit their deposit.

Where to nominate

Single nominations for a division for the House of Representatives must be made at the office of the DRO for that division.

Bulk nominations of all the candidates endorsed by a registered party for the House of Representatives in a particular state or territory must be lodged with the AEO for that state or territory.

Nominations for the Senate for a state or territory must be made at the office of the AEO for that state or territory.

It is your responsibility as a candidate to ensure that your nomination is completed and received by the AEO or DRO (as appropriate), together with the full nomination deposit, by the close of nominations.

Lodgement with Australia Post is not the equivalent of receipt by the AEO or DRO. In addition, for the nomination to be valid it must include both the completed nomination form and the nomination deposit.

It is in your interest to lodge your nomination form as early as possible. Nominating on the last day may cause problems, particularly if there are deficiencies in your nomination that require time to resolve.

Faxed nominations

You can lodge your nomination form by fax, but it is your responsibility to ensure this fax is received by the relevant AEO or DRO (as appropriate) before the close of nominations. For the nomination to be valid both the completed nomination form and the nomination deposit must be received by the deadline.

The possibility of transmission or print delays on receiving fax machines must be considered under such circumstances.

By faxing the form, you acknowledge the time of receipt is when the form enters the AEC's fax machine memory. The AEC is not responsible for any deadlines missed or losses incurred.

Note: emailed nomination forms will not be accepted.

For a nomination to be valid both the nomination form and the nomination deposit must be in the hands of the AEO or DRO, as appropriate, by 12 noon on the day of the close of nominations.

Appointment of agent forms

If you intend to appoint an agent to act on your behalf with regards to election financial disclosure matters, you must lodge an Appointment of Candidate Agent form at the AEC's National Office in Canberra before the close of nominations. The form and further information on appointing an agent, is available from either the AEC website or any AEC office.

Appointment forms and further information on appointing an agent are available in the Funding and Disclosure Guides for Candidates and Senate Groups on the AEC website.

Rejection of nomination

The Act, s.172

Electoral officers can reject a nomination if the provisions in the Act relating to any of the following have not been complied with:

  • the mode of nomination
  • the person to whom the nomination is made
  • the requisites for nomination
  • the form of consent to act.

A nomination will not be rejected simply because of a formal defect or error in the nomination if the officer to whom the nomination is addressed is satisfied there has been substantial compliance with the requirements of the Act.

Withdrawal of nomination

The Act, s.177

You may withdraw your consent to be nominated at any time up until the hour of nomination by lodging a withdrawal notice. A withdrawal notice can be obtained from any AEC office or by phoning the AEC on 13 23 26.

House of Representatives candidates must lodge their withdrawal notice with the DRO for the division for which they had nominated, even if their nomination was part of a bulk nomination. The registered officer may substitute a new candidate in a bulk nomination at any time before the close of nominations.

Senate candidates must lodge their withdrawal notice with the AEO for the state or territory for which they had nominated.

Once the withdrawal notice is in the hands of the relevant AEC officer the nomination is cancelled and arrangements are initiated to refund the deposit.

Uncontested elections

In a House of Representatives election, if only one candidate is nominated, the DRO will declare that candidate duly elected at the declaration of nominations.

In a Senate election, if the number of candidates nominated is not greater than the number of candidates to be elected, the AEO will declare the candidates duly elected at the declaration of nominations.

Death of a candidate

The Act, s.156(2)

For either the House of Representatives or the Senate, if a nominated candidate dies before the close of nominations, the nomination period is extended by one day. If the candidate was part of a bulk nomination, the registered officer may substitute a new candidate before the close of nominations.

The Act, s.180 and s.181

In a House of Representatives election, if a candidate dies between the declaration of nominations and election day, the election in that division does not proceed. A new writ is issued for another election, but this supplementary election is held using the electoral roll prepared for the original election.

In a Senate election, if a candidate dies between the close of nominations and election day and the number of remaining candidates is not greater than the number of candidates to be elected, those candidates will be declared elected. If the number of candidates remaining is greater than the number of candidates to be elected, the election will proceed.

The Act, s.273(27)

A vote recorded on a Senate ballot paper for a deceased candidate will be counted to the candidate for whom the voter has recorded the next preference and the numbers indicating subsequent preferences are regarded as being altered accordingly.

Return of deposit on the death of a candidate

The Act, s.178

If a nominated candidate for either the House of Representatives or Senate dies before election day, the deposit lodged is returned to the person who paid it or a person authorised in writing by them. If the candidate paid the deposit it will be returned to their personal representative.

Declaration of nominations

The Act, s.176

Nominations are declared and the draws for positions on the ballot papers are held 24 hours after the close of nominations.

Candidates' nomination forms will be produced at the conduct of the draw for positions. The media may inspect nominations but personal details of candidates (with the exception of address details) indicated has being not for public release will be removed. Address details for a candidate who is a silent elector will not be released or declared.

For a detailed list of dates and times for declaration of nominations and draw for ballot positions, contact your divisional office for the House of Representatives, state office for the Senate or visit the AEC website.

Provision of information on the certified lists of voters

The Act, s.90B

A candidate in a House of Representatives election is entitled to receive a copy of the certified list of voters for the division for which the candidate is seeking election. This copy is available from the AEC as soon as practicable after the close of the rolls and without charge.

Contact the relevant AEC House of Representatives divisional office to arrange for the collection of a copy of the certified list of voters.