FAQs: Referendum disclosure

For further information go to Referendum disclosure.

No, there is no requirement for a referendum entity to be registered with the AEC.

Yes, it is possible for a referendum entity to meet the definition of referendum donor (by donating to another referendum entity).

A referendum return would be required to be lodged by both the referendum entity and the referendum donor.

No, the Referendum Act does not exempt any financial disclosure entities (such as political parties, significant third parties, or any other entity) from referendum disclosure obligations.

It is possible for any financial disclosure entity to have a referendum disclosure obligation, if they meet the criteria of a referendum entity or referendum donor.

Charities that incur referendum expenditure (above the disclosure threshold during the referendum disclosure period) to influence voters in a referendum are subject to the requirements of the Referendum Act. This type of expenditure can create an obligation as a referendum entity.

The referendum expenditure period:

  • starts on the day that is six months before the writ for a referendum is issued; and
  • ends on the voting day for the referendum.

The Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2022 Explanatory Memorandum provides an example timeframe, unrelated to a specific referendum, that is shown below:

  • The Governor-General issues the writ for a referendum on 26 September.
  • The referendum voting day is set for 29 October.
  • As a result, the referendum expenditure period will run from 26 March (six months before the issue of the writ) to 29 October (voting day).

If you incur referendum expenditure outside the referendum expenditure period, there is no obligation to disclose it – even if it is above the disclosure threshold.

In the same way, there is no obligation to disclose donations made or received outside the referendum expenditure period.

Disclosure of certain information (e.g. expenditure, details of donations) by referendum entities and donors is required if it is above the disclosure threshold.

The disclosure threshold amount is $15,200 and will be in place for the current term of Parliament.

The threshold applies to the referendum expenditure period.

A donation has the same meaning as a gift under the Referendum Act.

A gift is defined as any disposition of property made by a person to another person, being a disposition made without consideration in money or money's worth or with inadequate consideration, and includes the provision of a service (other than volunteer labour) for no consideration or for inadequate consideration.

Updated: 31 March 2023
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