Political expenditure caps

This information is about the political expenditure caps that apply under the public funding scheme. For further information about the public funding scheme, visit our Applying for public funding page.

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

Applicable expenditure caps

If a candidate, group or party has lodged a certificate under section 130Y to opt-in to the public funding scheme, they are subject to limits on their political expenditure during the capped expenditure period.

The applicable expenditure caps for candidates, groups and parties vary.

Unendorsed candidates

For an unendorsed House of Assembly candidate, the cap is $100,000 (indexed).

For an unendorsed group of Legislative Council candidates, the cap is $500,000 (indexed).

For an unendorsed Legislative Council candidate who is ungrouped, the cap is $125,000 (indexed).

Registered political parties and their endorsed candidates

For a registered political party that endorses candidates for the Legislative Council only, the cap is $500,000 (indexed). Endorsed Legislative Council candidates do not have their own caps. Their political expenditure is deemed to be political expenditure of the registered political party.

A registered political party that endorses candidates for election in House of Assembly districts is allocated $75,000 (indexed) for each district in which they endorse a candidate. The party must, by agreement with the candidates, allocate a portion of this cap to each candidate. The amount allocated to each candidate cannot exceed $100,000. The agent of the party must provide the Electoral Commissioner written notice of any cap allocation agreement at least 8 days before polling day. If no amount is agreed between the party and the candidate, a cap amount of $40,000 is allocated to the candidate by default.

Therefore, the applicable expenditure cap for an endorsed House of Assembly candidate will vary depending on the agreement reached with the party.

If a registered political party, in addition to House of Assembly districts, also endorses candidates for election in the Legislative Council, then the party is allocated an additional $100,000 (indexed) for each Legislative Council candidate, to a maximum of $500,000 (indexed).

Expenditure which relates to the election of a House of Assembly candidate

The party agent must ensure that an endorsed House of Assembly candidate with an applicable expenditure cap only incurs political expenditure which relates to the election of the candidate.

The party agent must also ensure that the party does not incur political expenditure that relates to the election of an endorsed candidate such that the applicable expenditure cap for the candidate is exceeded.

Political expenditure which ‘relates to the election of a candidate’ is expenditure which relates to an electoral district in a House of Assembly election and is for electoral matter that:

  • expressly mentions the name of the candidate or the district or displays the image of the candidate, and
  • is communicated to electors in the district, and
  • is not mainly communicated to electors outside the district.

For more information, refer to section 130ZB.

Capped expenditure period

In a general election, the capped expenditure period starts on 1 July in the year before the election. In the case of any other election, it starts on the day which the vacancy giving rise to the election is announced in the House of Assembly by, or on behalf of, the Speaker.

For all elections, the capped expenditure period ends 30 days after polling day.

Offences and penalties

Agents must ensure that their clients do not exceed their applicable expenditure caps. Failing to comply with this obligation is an offence for which the maximum penalty is $7,500.

In addition, if a person spends in excess of their applicable expenditure cap during the capped expenditure period, their public funding payment will be reduced by an amount equal to 20 times the excess amount.

It is an offence to enter into an arrangement or agreement with a third party to incur political expenditure on your behalf during the capped expenditure period for the purpose of avoiding your applicable expenditure cap. The maximum penalty for this offence is $25,000.

Election may be declared void

An election may be declared void on the grounds of a breach of section 130ZA (the capped expenditure provisions) if the Court of Disputed Returns finds, on the balance of probabilities, that the result of the election was affected by the breach (section 107(7)).

Public funding guide

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