Financial Disclosure Guide for Political Parties

Updated: 6 July 2016

Important Disclosure Information

Receipts and debts from a representative or a person acting on behalf of a principal

Care must be exercised to ensure that disclosure is made of the correct person or organisation. A donation made by a person from their personal account must be disclosed as having been received from that person. This is regardless of whether that person nominated that the donation was made on behalf of their company and irrespective of whether the person was subsequently reimbursed by the company. The only exception to this rule is where one person, organisation or other entity has acted as a legal representative (for example, carried out transactions) for or on behalf of another (the latter is referred to as a principal).

An amount may be received from a person or organisation acting as the legal representative of another person or organisation (the principal). The identity of the principal itself, rather than the identity of the agent is to be disclosed, where the amount received from the principal is more than the disclosure threshold.

For example:

  • In the case of a payment from a solicitor’s trust account, disclosure should be made in relation to the person on whose behalf the payment is made, for example, {name of trust account} on behalf of {name of principal}.
  • In the case of an employer passing employee contributions or levies to a political party or associated entity as the agent for the employee, disclosure of the employee, not the employer, must be made.
  • In the case of a levy or contribution imposed by a political party on its parliamentary members and collected by way of payroll deductions, disclosure of the member as payee must be made.

These examples are provided as an indicative guide only. The concept of principal and agent is different to situations where someone makes donations to a political party from donations that they have themselves collected, or for which they are later reimbursed.

In these situations the person handing over the donation would be disclosed.

Record of loan terms and conditions

Section 306A of the Act provides that it is unlawful for a political party or a person acting on behalf of a political party to receive a loan of more than the disclosure threshold from a person or entity other than a financial institution unless a record of the loan is kept.

A financial institution is a bank, credit union, building society or a special service provider registered with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). An up to date list is available from the APRA website.

Section 306A(3) requires that where a political party or a person acting on behalf of a political party receives a loan from a person or entity that is not a financial institution, that is more than $13 000, the following details must be kept:

  • Terms and conditions of the loan, for example, amount of the loan, interest payable on the loan, repayment schedule, any special conditions attached to the loan.
  • For a loan from a registered industrial organisation other than a financial institution:
    • the name of the organisation
    • the name and address of each member of the executive committee of the organisation.
  • For a loan from an unincorporated association:
    • the name of the association or organisation
    • the name and address of each member of the executive committee of the association or organisation.
  • For a loan from a trust fund or out of funds of a foundation:
    • the name and description of the trust or foundation.
    • the names and addresses of the trustees
  • For a loan from a person or other organisation:
    • the name and address of the person or organisation.

Section 306A(6) of the Act provides that where a person receives a loan and the loan is not documented in accordance with the requirements of section 306A(3), the amount of the loan is payable to the Commonwealth.

Unlawful gifts


Section 306(1) of the Act provides that certain gifts made to or for the benefit of a political party or a person acting on behalf of a political party are unlawful unless the name and address of the person making the gift are known to the person receiving the gift. Such gifts are sometimes referred to as ‘anonymous donations’.

Examples of where a gift may constitute an unlawful gift under the Act:

  • A gift received by electronic transfer without the name and address details of the donor being provided or obtained.
  • A gift received from a donor, where the name and address is incomplete, for example, Mr Smith of Sydney. The name and address needs to be sufficient in detail to allow the person to be contacted.
  • A gift received from a trust or foundation and the political party does not know:
    • the title or description of the trust fund or name of the foundation, and
    • the names and addresses of the trustees.
  • A gift received from an unincorporated association (except for registered industrial organisations) and the political party does not know:
    • the name of the association,
    • the names and addresses of the members of the executive committee of the association.

Unlawful gifts (anonymous donations) in excess of the disclosure threshold are payable to the Commonwealth.

Winding-up of a donor company

A company liquidator may take action to recover from a political party any gifts that exceed $13 000 made by a company that is wound up within one year of the gift being made.

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