Media release

Referendum disclosure requirements now in effect

Updated: 11 April 2023

The Australian Electoral Commission is today alerting potential referendum entities and donors that new financial disclosure requirements are now in place.

A referendum disclosure scheme has been introduced as a result of amendments to the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984.

The referendum disclosure scheme requires campaign expenditure and donations to be reported.

Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers says that while the date for a referendum has not been set, disclosure obligations are retrospective and tied to a referendum timetable.

“The referendum expenditure period commences six months before the writ is issued and that is crucial for potential entities and donors to understand to ensure appropriate records are kept,” Mr Rogers said.

“If you are active in campaigning or making donations for a referendum, you may have an obligation to disclose that information.”

  • Referendum disclosure on the AEC website provides an overview of the referendum disclosure scheme. Additional content will be made available progressively.

AEC TV: Referendum disclosure requirements


What is referendum matter?

Referendum matter is matter communicated or intended to be communicated for the dominant purpose of influencing the way people vote in a referendum.

What is referendum expenditure?

Referendum expenditure is expenditure incurred for the dominant purpose of creating or communicating referendum matter.

What is a referendum entity?

A referendum entity is a person or organisation that incurs referendum expenditure over the referendum disclosure threshold at any time during the referendum expenditure period. (No registration requirements apply.)

What is the referendum expenditure period?

The referendum expenditure period:

  • starts on the day that is six months before the writ for a referendum is issued; and
  • ends on the voting day for the referendum.

What is the referendum disclosure threshold?

Disclosure of certain information (e.g. details of gifts and donations) by referendum entities and donors is subject to a minimum threshold above which disclosure is required.

The current disclosure threshold is $15,200.

What is a referendum donor?

A referendum donor is a person or entity that makes one or more donations totalling more than the disclosure threshold to a referendum entity during the referendum expenditure period.

Are there restrictions on foreign donations?

Restrictions on receiving gifts or donations of at least $100 from foreign donors apply to referendum entities.

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