Subsection 17(2C) of the Electoral Act requires the Commission to include particulars of the operation of s.316(2A) in this report since the last reporting on the section. Section 316(2A) provides as follows:
(2A) An authorised officer may, for the purpose of finding out whether a prescribed person, the financial controller of an associated entity or the agent of a registered political party has complied with this Part, by notice served personally or by post on:
(a) the agent or any officer of the political party; or
(aa) the financial controller of the associated entity or any officer of the associated entity; or
(b) the prescribed person or, if the prescribed person is a body corporate, any of its officers;
as the case may be, require the agent, financial controller, person or officer:
(c) to produce, within the period and in the manner specified in the notice, the documents or other things referred to in the notice; or
(d) to appear, at a time and place specified in the notice, before the authorised officer to give evidence, either orally or in writing, and to produce the documents or other things referred to in the notice.
Where a political party operates party units, such as local branches, a s.316(2A) notice may seek records from a sample of these party units.
The purpose of investigating documents and evidence produced in response to the notices issued under s.316(2A) of the Electoral Act is to determine whether the person lodging the disclosure return has complied with their obligations under Part XX. Under s.314AB(1) the person responsible for lodging an annual return for a political party is the party agent, and in respect of an associated entity, under s.314AEA(1) the responsible person is the financial controller. A s.316(2A) notice allows for any documents and evidence in the possession of the particular political party or associated entity to be obtained in order to assess the completeness and accuracy of disclosures in respect of:
The last report under s.17(2C) of the Electoral Act which included particulars of the operation of s.316(2A) was the Election Funding and Disclosure Report, Federal Election 2013. That report contained particulars of the operation of s.316(2A) investigations for notices issued between 1 July 2011 and 1 April 2014.
This report, therefore, sets out particulars of the operations of s.316(2A) between 1 April 2014 and up to 1 October 2014.
Between 1 April 2014 and 1 October 2014 the AEC issued eight s.316(2A) notices in respect of registered political parties, state branches of registered political parties and associated entities. As at the date of the publication of this report, no final reports had been issued on these eight compliance investigations.
The AEC's policy is to support, wherever reasonably possible, those who are required to comply so that they can meet their compliance obligations to disclose fully and accurately as required under Part XX of the Electoral Act. Therefore, where the AEC forms a view, based on its analysis of documents provided under s.316(2A) that errors have been made in the disclosure return, the AEC writes to the relevant party agent or financial controller highlighting such errors and suggests that they should consider lodging a request with the AEC under s.319A(2) of the Electoral Act.
A request made under s.319A(2) allows the AEC under s.319A(4) to permit an amendment to the disclosure return to which the request relates. The effect of such an amendment is to correct the disclosure return so that it is accurate.
At the time of writing, the most recent compliance investigations have not been finalised. Therefore, no findings have been made in respect of those disclosure returns currently being investigated under s.316(2A) of the Electoral Act.