Reporting political expenditure (candidates and parties)

This information is for candidates, groups, and registered political parties.

For more information, refer to Part 13A of the Electoral Act 1985 External link.

What is political expenditure?

Political expenditure is defined in section 130A and regulation 18A of the Electoral Regulations 2009 External link. Political expenditure includes the public expression of views on a political party, a Member of Parliament, a candidate, or an issue in an election.

For more information, refer to our Political Expenditure Guide on our Guides page.

What must be reported

Political expenditure during capped expenditure period

If a candidate, group, or registered political party incurs more than $5,000 (indexed) of political expenditure during the capped expenditure period, they must lodge a capped expenditure period return.

The capped expenditure period return must be lodged within 60 days after polling day (section 130ZQ).

If a candidate, group, or party has lodged a certificate under section 130Y to participate in the public funding scheme, they are subject to limits on their political expenditure during the capped expenditure period. The capped expenditure period return will be used by the Electoral Commissioner to determine whether the participant has adhered to their applicable expenditure cap and to determine the amount of public funding payable. For more information, refer to our Public Funding Guide on our Guides page.

Annual political expenditure

If a person incurs, by their own authority, more than $5,000 (indexed) of political expenditure during a financial year, they must lodge an annual political expenditure return.

This return must be lodged within 12 weeks after the end of the financial year. Members of Parliament and the Crown are exempt from lodging this return (section 130ZR).

Audit certificates

You are required to provide an audit certificate for every return lodged with the Electoral Commissioner (section 130ZV).

You may apply for a waiver of the requirement to provide an audit certificate if the costs of compliance would be unreasonable.

Offences

Failing to lodge a return within the legislated timeframe is an offence. The maximum penalty for a registered political party agent is $10,000. For any other person, the maximum penalty is $5,000.

Lodging a return which a person knows is false or misleading in a material particular is an offence for which the maximum penalty is $10,000.

For more information, refer to section 130ZZE.