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 matter is matter communicated or intended to be communicated for the dominant purpose of influencing the way people vote in a referendum.
Referendum expenditure is expenditure incurred for the dominant purpose of creating or communicating referendum matter.
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.)
The referendum expenditure period:
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.
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.
Restrictions on receiving gifts or donations of at least $100 from foreign donors apply to referendum entities.