Australian Electoral Commission

Deregistration of certain political parties

Updated: 4 January 2011

Deregistration

Schedule 3 of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006 (the Amendment Act) operates to de-register those political parties without current or past representation in Federal Parliament.

De-registration will occur on 27 December 2006. The AEC has until this date to satisfy itself that parties have, or have had, representation in the Parliament.

De-registered parties may apply for re-registration. In doing so, they must satisfy the contemporary registration requirements (including naming provisions) of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act) before being re-registered.

What is the rationale for de-registration?

The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters made a number of recommendations for change to the Act in its 'Report of the inquiry into the Conduct of the 2004 federal election and Matters Related thereto'.

Chapter 4 of the Report included recommendations to address apparent confusion on the part of electors over party names. The recommendation for de-registration of certain parties was adopted by Parliament.

How do the de-registration provisions work?

A party will be automatically de-registered on 27 December 2006 unless:

  • The AEC is satisfied that it is a Parliamentary party i.e. it has at least one member who is a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. The AEC has confirmed the eligibility of most Parliamentary parties since the 2004 election. Where this has not occurred, it will seek confirmatory information from the parties.
  • The party makes a claim that satisfies the AEC that it (or a related party) has previously been a Parliamentary party. By section 123 of the Act, parties are related where one is part of another (e.g. a state branch of a Federal party) or both are parts of the same party (e.g. two state branches).

How does a party claim past representation in Parliament?

A claim by a party with past representation must:

  • Be made by the registered officer of the party by 25 September 2006;
  • Name the party member (or related party member) on whom the party relies and the period during which they were a member of Parliament;
  • Provide documentary evidence, or a declaration by the party member, that the member was a candidate of the party (or related party) and was elected as a member of Parliament;
  • If the claim is in respect of membership of a related party, provide evidence or a declaration (signed by the secretaries of both parties) that the parties were related at the time.

The AEC may make any enquiries it considers appropriate to ascertain the facts about a claim:

  • It has no discretion to extend the period within which representation must be determined, or to accept a claim that does not meet the statutory requirements;
  • Its decision in respect of a claim is reviewable by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal under section 141 of the Act.

What if two parties rely on the same person?

Two parties may rely on one person where that person was elected to Parliament as a member of one party at one election and as a member of another party at a different election.

If two parties seek to rely on the one person in circumstances where the person was elected to Parliament as member of only one of the parties, that party may rely on the person.

If two parties otherwise seek to rely on the one person (i.e. they were elected as a member of a related party), the party making the earliest successful claim may rely on the person.

What if a sitting member of Parliament changed parties?

Past representation is based on party members being elected to Parliament. Schedule 3 is not satisfied where an elected member changed parties and the acquiring party seeks to rely on that person as their representative.

Freezing the Register of Political Parties

The public Register of Political Parties is frozen for a period of six months from 23 June 2006. The effect is that no political party may be registered or de-registered during the period.

A change of registered officer details may be made during this period.

What if an election is called?

If an election is called within 12 months after 23 June 2006, the Register of Political Parties as at that date applies for the election.

Re-registration arrangements

It is open to a party that is de-registered under these measures to again apply for registration under Part XI of the Act. The Federal Registration of Political Parties Handbook provides guidance to assist applicants.

Such parties should be aware that:

  • The application will be treated as a new application, with details of the application advertised and measures such as the '500 member' rule checked as necessary;
  • Section 129, which provides that parties with certain names not be registered, was amended in 2004 by the insertion of paragraph 129(da). This requires that a party not be registered if a reasonable person would think that its name or abbreviation suggests a connection or relationship between the party and a registered party that does not, in fact, exist.
  • The $500 fee which normally applies for registration of a political party is waived for applications made before 26 June 2007 by parties who have been de-registered under schedule 3.

What is the authority for these measures?

Schedule 3 of the Amendment Act operating in conjunction with Part XI of the Act.