The Commonwealth funding and disclosure scheme (the disclosure scheme) established under Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act) deals with the public funding of federal election campaigns and the disclosure of detailed financial information.
The disclosure scheme was introduced to increase overall transparency and inform the public about the financial dealings of political parties, candidates and others involved in the electoral process.
The disclosure scheme requires candidates, federally registered political parties, their State branches and local branches/sub-party units, (referred to collectively as political parties in this guide), their associated entities, donors and other participants in the electoral process to lodge annual or election period financial disclosure returns with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
The disclosure returns are then made available for public inspection.
This version of the Financial Disclosure Guide for Associated Entities (Guide for associated entities) applies to returns for the 2015–2016 financial year.
The AEC releases a series of publications designed to assist political parties, candidates, donors and other persons that may have financial disclosure obligations under the Act. These publications include:
The Guide for associated entities is designed to assist associated entities to understand their financial disclosure obligations under Part XX of the Act.
The Guide for associated entities provides information derived from the Act as well as from the experiences of the AEC in the administration of the disclosure scheme. While it is intended to be a user-friendly guide to the Commonwealth funding and disclosure requirements it does not address the whole of the Act. Accordingly, the Guide for associated entities should not be used as a substitute for specific legal advice on detailed disclosure or compliance issues.
In addition to lodging an Associated Entity Disclosure Return, some associated entities may also have an obligation to lodge a Third Party Return of Political Expenditure. Accordingly, it is recommended associated entities also familiarise themselves with the disclosure obligations of third parties.
Users are urged to read and familiarise themselves with the relevant parts of the Act and to seek their own independent advice where necessary.
Additional information and advice on the disclosure scheme is available from the AEC. Contact the AEC.
The Act and all guides published by the AEC are available at www.aec.gov.au. The annual and election returns are also available for viewing on this site after the public release date. A searchable database is also provided which allows data to be exported.
The Guide for associated entities incorporates text boxes to highlight important information. Each text box is prefaced with a symbol. For example:
A warning symbol indicates information relating to a legal obligation under the Act.
An information symbol indicates a useful tip.
A timing symbol indicates a due date.