Changes to election funding and financial disclosure

Updated: 21 December 2018

The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018 (the FAD Reform Act) received Royal Assent on 30 November 2018. Some changes have already come into effect while others will come into effect on 1 January 2019.

The FAD Reform Act introduces new laws that affect political parties, their associated entities and other non-party political actors.  In summary the FAD Reform Act:

  1. Establishes a Transparency Register, which is intended to be a new ‘one-stop-shop’ for publicly available information about political parties, associated entities and other non-party political actors;
  2. Prohibits donations from foreign governments and state-owned enterprises being used to finance public debate;
  3. Requires political actors to verify that certain donations come from:
    1. an organisation incorporated in Australia, or with its head office or principal place of activity in Australia; or
    2. an Australian citizen or permanent resident, Commonwealth elector or a New Zealand citizen who holds a Subclass 444 (Special Category) visa;
  4. Prohibits other political actors from using donations from foreign sources to fund electoral expenditure;
  5. Limits public election funding to demonstrated election spending;
  6. Defines what activities of entities engaged in public debate will be captured by a requirement to register with the AEC and/or provide annual disclosure returns; and
  7. Modernises the enforcement and compliance regime for political finance regulation.

The FAD Reform Act represents the most significant change to funding and disclosure legislation in some time. The AEC is in the process of preparing and updating guidance material to support these changes and to ensure that those with obligations under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 are aware of their requirements.

Refer to the AEC website for further information relating to these changes and direct any enquiries to, or alternatively call the Funding and Disclosure help desk on (02) 6271 4552.

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