Associated entities

Updated: 12 April 2022

Legislative changes impacting associated entities

On 13 December 2021, the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Political Campaigners) Act 2021 received Royal Assent. Some changes resulting from the Political Campaigners Act may require action from associated entities by 14 March 2022. Detailed information is available on the Financial disclosure legislative changes page.

Registration as an associated entity

Persons or entities are required to register as an associated entity if any of the following apply in a financial year:

  • the entity is controlled by one or more registered political parties;
  • the entity is a financial member of a registered political party;
  • another person is a financial member of a registered political party on behalf of the entity;
  • the entity has voting rights in a registered political party;
  • another person has voting rights in a registered political party on behalf of the entity;
  • the entity operates wholly, or to a significant extent, for the benefit of one or more disclosure entities, and the benefit relates to one or more electoral activities (whether or not the electoral activities are undertaken during an election period).

Examples of associated entities include '500 clubs', 'think tanks', registered clubs, service companies, trade unions and corporate party members.

If you are not currently registered as an associated entity and if you meet the requirements for registering as an associated entity you are required to register as an associated entity within 90 days of becoming required to register.

As the Political Campaigners Act commenced on 14 December 2021, registration as an associated entity, for those that meet the requirement, is required within 90 days of becoming required to register.

Associated entities are required to provide annual financial disclosure returns to the AEC.

An associated entity that registers within the current financial year and was not required to be registered in the previous financial year must lodge an annual return for the previous financial year within 30 days of having been registered. For example, an associated entity that is registered on 24 January 2022 (for the financial year 2021‑22) must lodge an Associated Entity Annual Return for 2020‑21 by 23 February 2022.

Disclosure entities and electoral activity

A disclosure entity is defined in the Electoral Act at s 321B.

A disclosure entity for an associated entity is a person or entity that is any of the following:

  • a significant third party
  • a senator or a member of the House of Representatives
  • a candidate or Senate group in an election
  • a person who was a candidate in an election of members of the House of Representatives in the previous four years
  • a person who was a candidate in an election of Senators in the previous seven years.

Electoral activity is defined in the Electoral Act at s 287H(5).

Electoral activities include:

  • fundraising, of at least equal to the disclosure threshold, for the purpose of incurring electoral expenditure
  • assisting in the creation or communication of electoral matter
  • otherwise facilitating the interests of a disclosure entity with respect to preparing for, or participating in, an election.

Who lodges the annual return?

The financial controller is responsible for lodging the annual return.

An associated entity must appoint a financial controller at the time of registration.

Financial Disclosure Guide for Associated Entities

The Financial Disclosure Guide for Associated Entities is designed to assist associated entities to understand their financial disclosure obligations under the provisions of Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act).

This guide provides information derived from the Electoral Act as well as from the experiences of the AEC in the administration of the Commonwealth funding and disclosure scheme.

Access eReturns Portal

Lodging the 2020-21 annual return

Upon registration, a 2020-21 Associated Entity Party Return must be lodged within 30 days of becoming registered.

Financial disclosure returns