FAQs: Party Registration

Updated: 29 May 2024

Party Registration

A group wishing to register as a political party must apply in writing to the AEC. The AEC will then assess the application according to legal guidelines set in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and supporting legislation. A party registration takes at least three months for a Parliamentary party and four months for a non-Parliamentary party.

In order to register a political party, the AEC is required to assess whether that party is represented by a current Member of the House of Representatives or a Senator, or has at least 1,500 members.

No, registration as a political party is voluntary.

According to the Commonwealth Electoral Act, the registration of a political party requires a group to apply in writing for registration. The AEC has no power to proactively consider registering a group as a political party.

Recognition. A registered political party can list its name (or abbreviation) alongside the name of any of its candidates on House of Representatives and Senate ballot papers. The party’s registered logo can also be shown on the ballot paper. Registered parties are also entitled to receive election funding and access to certain electoral roll information.

There is no requirement for a political party to register in order to campaign or run candidates at a federal election. However, regardless of whether a party is registered or not, all political entities are subject to the same electoral laws around financial disclosure, the authorisation of political communication and restrictions on foreign donations.

The process of applying for party registration takes a minimum of three months, so the AEC’s advice to any groups intending to register as a political party for the next federal election is to submit an application as soon as possible.

This is especially important as the date of Australia’s next federal election is not known in advance, and the AEC has a legal requirement to cease any activity on assessing party registration applications once a writ has been issued for a federal election or by-election. If an application is not able to be assessed before a writ is issued, the political party cannot be registered for that election.

Not without consent from the party that was first registered with that name.

In 2021, the Australian Parliament passed legislation preventing political parties from being registered “if they include a word which is part of the name or abbreviation of an already registered political party (without that party’s consent).” A similar restriction exists around the use of logos.

While some exceptions exist around common words, collective nouns and the names of people and places, the intent of the legislation is to minimise the risk of parties with similar names confusing or misleading voters.

There are a few ways in which a party can be deregistered, but the two most common ways are: at their own request, or as the result of an AEC review. In both cases, the final decision is legally made by a delegate of the Electoral Commission.

A party can be deregistered by the AEC for a number of reasons including because it has ceased to exist, for failure to comply with a review notice, and for having fewer than 1,500 members and no Parliamentary members. Parties are entitled to provide reasons as to why their party should not be deregistered, for consideration as part of this process. A party deregistered in this way may apply to be registered at any point.

When a party voluntarily deregisters, the Commonwealth Electoral Act prohibits that party or a prospective party wishing to use its name (or a similar name) from registering as a political party until after the next general election following the party’s deregistration.

All candidates for the Senate have the ability to request to be grouped together as part of a column. In the case of candidates from registered political parties, these columns are marked with that registered party’s name (or abbreviation) and logo.

Candidates who are not members of registered parties can also request to be grouped together as part of a column, and the AEC is additionally required to list all Senate candidates who have not requested a group together in their own column. As these candidates are not members of registered political parties, the Commonwealth Electoral Act does not allow the AEC to apply a name or logo to these columns, meaning they are left ‘blank’ above the line on the ballot paper.

Regardless of whether a column on the Senate ballot paper has a party name and logo or is blank, voters are free to number it in an above-the-line vote. Similarly, voters are also free to number boxes in these columns below the line, if they choose to vote that way.

Further website information