Registered political parties and their state and territory branches, associated entities, political campaigners, third parties and donors are required to lodge an annual return with the AEC.
Annual returns for political parties, associated entities and political campaigners for each financial year must show:
The details to be disclosed for amounts received that are more than the disclosure threshold are:
The details of debts outstanding as at 30 June that total more than the disclosure threshold are:
In addition to the above, political campaigners must show the total amount of amount of electoral expenditure incurred by, or with the authority of the campaigner.
Annual returns for third parties for each financial year must include:
There are two definitions that are relevant to disclosing electoral expenditure and determining what electoral communications need to be authorised for the purpose of Part XXA of the Electoral Act.
Where expenditure is incurred to create or communicate electoral matter, in addition to other reasons, the dominant purpose of the expenditure must be considered.
In general, any expenditure incurred by a political entity, a member of the House of Representatives or a Senator in relation to an election will be electoral expenditure.
Communications that have the dominant purpose of educating their audience, raising awareness of, or encouraging debate on a public policy issue are not considered electoral matter.
The Explanatory Memorandum contains some helpful examples of electoral matter and electoral expenditure.
Annual returns for organisation and individual donors to political parties and political campaigners for each financial year must disclose details of donations:
From 1 January 2019 the Electoral Act restricts the receipt of donations from foreign donors. A foreign donor can be:
Political parties and political campaigners are restricted from receiving foreign donations of $1,000 or more. A foreign donor must not make gifts to a political party or political campaigner for $100 or more if the purpose is for the gift to be used for electoral expenditure or for creating or communicating electoral matter.
Third parties must not receive donations from foreign donors for the amount or value equal to the disclosure threshold ($13,800), which are then used for the purpose of incurring electoral expenditure or for creating or communicating electoral matter.
Candidates, unendorsed Senate groups and Senate groups endorsed by more than one registered political party must lodge election disclosure returns with the AEC. The returns must show:
People or organisations making donations to candidates or Senate groups in excess of the disclosure threshold must also lodge a donor return.
Civil penalties have been added to a wider range of criminal penalties associated with election funding and disclosure. These penalties affect political parties, their associated entities and other non-party political actors.
Election disclosure returns are made available for public inspection 24 weeks after polling day on this website. Annual disclosure returns are similarly made available for public inspection from the first working day in February.