Significant third parties

Updated: 29 June 2022

Legislative changes to political campaigners

On 13 December 2021, the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Political Campaigners) Act 2021 received Royal Assent. A political campaigner is now to be known as a significant third party. Some changes resulting from the Political Campaigners Act require action in relation to both registration as a significant third party within 90 days of commencement of the act and a Significant Third Party Disclosure Return lodged within 30 days of registration. Detailed information is available on the Financial disclosure legislative changes page.

Registration as a significant third party

Persons or entities are required to register as a significant third party when:

  • electoral expenditure exceeds $250,000 during that financial year (previously $500,000), or any one of the previous three financial years; or
  • electoral expenditure is at least equal to the disclosure threshold during that financial year and electoral expenditure during the previous financial year was at least one‑third of the revenue of the person or entity for that year: or
  • during that financial year the person or entity operates for the dominant purpose of fundraising amounts:
    1. the aggregate of which is at least equal to the disclosure threshold; and
    2. that are for the purpose of incurring electoral expenditure or that are to be gifted to another person or entity for the purpose of incurring electoral expenditure.

If you are currently registered as a political campaigner on the Transparency Register, you will not be required to re-register as a significant third party. You will be automatically categorised as a significant third party on the Transparency Register.

If you are not currently registered as a political campaigner and if you meet the requirements for registering as a significant third party you are required to register as a significant third party within 90 days of becoming required to register.

As the Political Campaigners Act commenced on 14 December 2021, registration as a significant third party, for those that meet the requirements, is required by 14 March 2022.

Significant third parties are required to provide annual financial disclosure returns to the AEC.

A significant third party 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, a significant third party that is registered on 24 January 2022 (for the financial year 2021 22) must lodge a Significant Third Party Annual Return for 2020 21 by 23 February 2022.

Who lodges the annual return?

The financial controller is responsible for lodging the annual return.

A significant third party must appoint a financial controller at the time of registration.

Financial Disclosure Guide for Significant Third Parties

The Financial Disclosure Guide for significant third parties is designed to assist significant third parties 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.

Lodging the annual return

Access eReturns Portal

Further information