Reporting political expenditure (candidates and parties)

This information is for candidates, including Members of Parliament (MPs) seeking re-election, groups, and registered political parties. If this is not what you are looking for, visit our Funding and disclosure for State elections page to find information that is relevant to you.

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

What is political expenditure?

Political expenditure is defined by section 130A of the Electoral Act 1985, and includes the public expression of views on a political party, a Member of Parliament, a candidate, or an issue in an election. It also includes conducting opinion polls. It does not include the expenditure of an electorate allowance or administrative expenditure.

Political expenditure is taken to be incurred when the goods are delivered or the services provided (section 130A(6)).

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 an expenditure return. 

This return must be lodged within 60 days after polling day in a form approved by the Electoral Commissioner (section 130ZQ of the Electoral Act 1985).

The Electoral Commissioner will provide the return forms to lodge.

Annual political expenditure (not applicable to MPs)

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 expenditure return.

This return must be lodged within 12 weeks after the end of the financial year. This obligation does not extend to Members of Parliament or the Crown (section 130ZR).

The Electoral Commissioner will provide the return forms to lodge.

Political expenditure caps

If a person or body has lodged a certificate under section 130Y of the Electoral Act 1985 to opt into the public funding scheme, they are also subject to limits on political expenditure during the capped expenditure period. For more information, visit our Applying for public funding and Political expenditure caps pages.

A candidate's political expenditure for their own district only

Agents of endorsed candidates in elections must ensure that the candidate's political expenditure relates only to the candidate's bid for election in their district.

Political expenditure relates to a candidate's bid for election in a House of Assembly district if it 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 of the Electoral Act 1985.

Offences

Agents must ensure that their clients do not exceed their applicable expenditure caps. Contravention of this obligation is an offence for which the maximum penalty is $7,500 (section 130ZZE(6) of the Electoral Act 1985).

It is an offence for candidates to enter into an arrangement or agreement with a third party to incur political expenditure on their behalf during the capped expenditure period to avoid their applicable expenditure cap. The maximum penalty for this offence is $25,000 (section 130ZC). 

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