Applying for public funding

This information is about how to apply for the public funding scheme. 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.

If you wish to apply for public funding you will be obliged to comply with the Political expenditure caps.

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

Who can apply?

Endorsed and unendorsed candidates for, and Members of, both Houses of Parliament may apply for public funding.

Registered political parties may also apply for public funding on behalf of themselves and their endorsed candidates and groups.

Lodging a certificate to participate in the scheme

Parties, groups and candidates who wish to participate in the public funding scheme must lodge a certificate issued under section 130Y of the Electoral Act 1985. Once lodged, certificates cannot be withdrawn.

The Electoral Commissioner will provide the certificates to lodge.

General election timeframes

Unendorsed Members of Parliament and unendorsed groups who have at least one Member of Parliament must lodge their certificates 24 months before polling day for a general election in which they intend to nominate.

Registered political parties can lodge a certificate on behalf of candidates and groups for each electoral district they wish to contest even if they do not as yet know the identity of the candidates. In the case of a general election, they must lodge their certificate 24 months before polling day.

Unendorsed candidates who are not Members of Parliament and unendorsed groups who do not have at least one Member of Parliament must lodge their certificates for a general election by 5pm on the first day of the capped expenditure period:

  • For a new candidate, the commencement of their capped expenditure period will depend on the date they announce their intention to stand as a candidate for the election or on the date they nominate (whichever is earlier).
  • Where a person is not a new candidate, their capped expenditure period will commence on 1 July in the year before the election.
  • For an unendorsed group, the commencement of its capped expenditure period will vary depending on when it lodges its section 58 application to be grouped on the ballot paper (see sections 130A(9), 130Y(2)(b) and 130ZF(5)(a)(iv)).

Any other election

In the case of an election caused by a vacancy in the House of Assembly, candidates, groups and parties must lodge on or before 5pm on the day on which their respective capped expenditure periods commence. For most, this will be the day on which the vacancy is announced by, or on behalf of, the Speaker. For groups and new candidates, the start of the capped expenditure period will vary.

Expenditure caps

Once a candidate, Member of Parliament, group or party has lodged a certificate under section 130Y of the Electoral Act 1985 to opt into the public funding scheme, they are subject to limits on political expenditure during the capped expenditure period. It is an offence to exceed the expenditure cap and penalties apply. For more information, visit our Political expenditure caps page.

Qualifying for payment

To qualify for public funding, a candidate or a group must either:

  • be elected, or
  • receive a total number of eligible votes of at least 4% of the total primary votes (section 130Q of the Electoral Act 1985).

An eligible vote is a formal first preference vote. The total primary votes is the total number of eligible votes cast for the electoral district.

The candidate or group must also lodge a political expenditure return within 60 days of polling day in order to receive public funding. For more information, visit our Reporting political expenditure (candidates and parties) page.

Funding payable

The funding payable depends on whether or not a candidate is a Member of Parliament, or in the same registered political party as at least one Member of Parliament (section 130P of the Electoral Act 1985):

  • If you are a Member of Parliament and not endorsed by a registered political party at the dissolution of the Parliament, your entitlement is $3.00 for each eligible vote.
  • If you are a candidate or group endorsed by a registered political party that has at least one Member in either House at the dissolution of the Parliament, your entitlement is $3.00 for each eligible vote.
  • For all other candidates and groups not falling within the above two categories, your entitlement to public funding is calculated on the basis of $3.50 for every eligible vote you receive up to 10% of the votes, and then $3.00 for the remainder of the votes.

You cannot be paid more than your actual expenditure (section 130Q(5)(d)).

In calculating your payment, the Electoral Commissioner will first determine the maximum amount to which you are entitled, and then reduce the payment for any excess expenditure. If you exceed your political expenditure cap, your entitlement is reduced by $20 for every $1 you have spent in excess of your capped political expenditure limit (section 130Q(4)).

Examples of how payment calculations work

Example 1

Roger is an unendorsed candidate and not a Member of Parliament. He receives 50% of the total of the 20,000 first preference votes cast. Roger's potential entitlement is $31,000 (2,000 votes x $3.50 = $7,000 plus 8,000 votes x $3.00 = $24,000).

Roger only spent $25,000 of his expenditure limit, so his funding payment will be $25,000.

Example 2

Mary is an endorsed Member of Parliament who receives 50% of the total of the 20,000 first preference votes cast. Mary's potential entitlement is $30,000 (10,000 votes x $3.00).

Mary spent the entire amount within her expenditure cap, so her funding payment will be $30,000.

Example 3

Barry is a candidate endorsed by a registered political party with at least one Member of Parliament. He receives 60% of the total of the 20,000 first preference votes cast. Barry's potential entitlement is $36,000 (12,000 votes x $3.00).

But Barry exceeded his capped expenditure limit by $1,000. Therefore, $20,000 will be deducted from his potential entitlement ($1,000 x 20), so his funding payment will be $16,000.

Disclaimer

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