Copies of the disclosure returns for lodgement by candidates are available in the candidate portal under disclosure returns. Each completed return can be lodged on the portal during the allotted time that they are due; these dates are shown in the portal. If you are unable to lodge these via the candidate portal, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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 A person who is a candidate for election to an office of a council must lodge the following returns with the Electoral Commissioner:

CAMPAIGN DONATIONS RETURN

Candidates must lodge a campaign donations return with the Electoral Commissioner.

Candidates must lodge 2 returns:

For a supplementary election:

  • the first campaign donation return must be lodged with the returning officer in the period between 8 to 14 days after the close of nominations
  • the second campaign donation return must be lodged within 30 days after the conclusion of the election.

The return must disclose:

  • the total amount or value of all gifts received during the disclosure period
  • the number of people who made those gifts
  • the amount or value of each gift
  • the date on which each gift was made
  • details of persons and organisations (donors) providing those gifts.

The campaign donations return need not set out any details in respect of:

  • a private gift made to the candidate
  • a gift with an amount or value less than $500
  • a gift already disclosed in a large gift return

If a candidate is not required to provide any details in a return, the campaign donations return must still be lodged and include a statement to the effect that no gifts of a kind required to be disclosed were received.

LARGE GIFTS RETURN

All candidates must lodge a large gifts return if they receive a gift or gifts from a donor in excess of $2,500.

The Acts prescribe different times that the large gifts return must be lodged, but during the election year, a large gift return must be lodged within 5 days of receipt of the large gift.

The return must disclose:

  • the amount or value of each gift received
  • details of persons and organisations (donors) providing those gifts
  • the date on which each gift was made.

Two or more gifts (excluding private gifts) made by the same person to a candidate during the disclosure period are to be treated as one gift.

A large gifts return need not set out any details in respect of a private gift made to the candidate. A gift to a candidate is a private gift if it is made in a private capacity to the candidate for their personal use and the candidate has not used, and will not use, the gift solely or substantially for a purpose related to the election.

Large gifts returns should be lodged with ECSA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Offences

See section 85 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999. It is an offence to fail to lodge a return within time, to lodge a return containing false or misleading information, or to supply information that is false or misleading to another person for a return. The maximum penalty is $10,000.

Public inspection of returns

The Electoral Commissioner is required to publish all returns within prescribed times on a website maintained by the returning officer. 

Records

See section 89 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999. A person must take reasonable steps to retain all records relevant to a return and keep these for at least four years after the date of which the relevant return is required to be lodged. The maximum penalty is $5,000.

Timetable for returns

Download a copy of the 2023 supplementary elections - returns timetable (PDF, 226KB)

FAQFrequently asked questions

ALL COUNCILS (other than the City of Adelaide)
What returns do I have to lodge?
  • 2 campaign donation returns – whenever a gift (or multiple gifts from the same donor) is received that totals $500 or more
  • Large gift return - whenever a gift (or multiple gifts from the same donor) is received that totals $2,501 or more.
Where do I lodge my returns?

Copies of the disclosure returns for lodgement by candidates are available in the candidate portal under disclosure returns. Each completed return can be lodged on the portal during the allotted time that they are due; these dates are shown in the portal. If you are unable to lodge these via the candidate portal, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Is there a difference between 'gift' or 'donation?'

The Act refers to a ‘gift’, but it effectively means the same as a ‘donation’.

A gift is defined in the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 (LGEA) as:

  • a disposition of property
  • made by a person to another person (otherwise than by will)
  • without consideration in money or money’s worth or with inadequate consideration; and
  • includes the provision of a service (other than volunteer labour) for no consideration or inadequate consideration.

By way of example, if a person gives money to a candidate (without getting anything in return), donates goods or services, or supplies a good or service to a candidate for less than the market or commercial rate, this may constitute a gift.

What is a 'disposition of property?'

A ‘disposition of property’ means a conveyance, transfer, assignment, settlement, delivery, payment or other alienation of property, and includes:

  • the allotment of shares in a company; and
  • the creation of a trust in property; and
  • the grant or creation of a lease, mortgage, charge, servitude, licence, power or partnership or any interest in property; and
  • the release, discharge, surrender, forfeiture or abandonment, at law or in equity, of a debt, contract or chose in action or any interest in property; and
  • the exercise by a person of a general power of appointment of property in favour of another person; and
  • a transaction entered into by a person with intent thereby to diminish, directly or indirectly, the value of the person's own property and to increase the value of the property of another person.
What do I have to disclose in a campaign donation return?

The form of return will be provided in the candidate portal with fillable fields to complete, including:

  • the total amount or value of all gifts with an amount or value of $500 or more received by the candidate during the disclosure period
  • the number of persons who made the gifts
  • the amount or value of each gift
  • the date on which gift was made
  • the name and address of the person making the gift (or if a trust or incorporated association – the name of the association and the name and addresses of the executive committee of the association and the name and address of the trustees and title and description of the trust).
What do I have to disclose in a large gift return?

The form of return will be provided in the candidate portal with fillable fields to complete, including:

  • the amount or value of each gift
  • the date on which the gift was made
  • the name and address of the person making the gift (or if a trust or incorporated association – the name of the association and the name and addresses of the executive committee of the association and the name and address of the trustees and title and description of the trust).
When do I have to lodge these returns?

Download the 2023 supplementary elections - returns timetable (PDF, 226KB)

Who is a candidate?

A person is a candidate if they have announced their candidacy for an election, if they have nominated as a candidate for an election, or if they are already a member of council standing for election again.

What is a 'new candidate?'

A person is defined as a ‘new candidate’, in relation to an election, if the person had not been a candidate in the last general election of a council and had not been a candidate at a supplementary election held after the last general election of a council.

Do I have to report the same campaign donation (i.e. gift) more than once?

No. Although the disclosure period (reporting period) for the second campaign donation return is the same as for the first campaign donation return, gifts already reported in the first campaign donation return do not need to be disclosed again.

What if I receive 2 or more gifts from the same donor?

There is a requirement to treat 2 or more gifts during the disclosure period as 1 gift, and once the total reaches $500 (for a campaign donation) or $2,501 (for a large gift), that ‘gift’ will be disclosed in the relevant campaign donation return or large gift return.

What if I do not receive any donations or any donations over $500? Do I still need to lodge both campaign donation returns?

Yes. You should lodge a NIL return for both.

What if I have already reported a gift received in a large gift return? Do I have to report it again in a campaign donation return?

No. You do not need to report a large gift in a later campaign donations return, if it has already been disclosed.

How do I know if something I give to a candidate needs to be disclosed?

If it is a private gift, it does not need to be disclosed. A gift is a private gift if it is made to a candidate in a private capacity for their personal use and the candidate has not used and will not use the gift solely or substantially for a purpose related to the election.

Do I have to disclose the use of volunteers as a gift?

No. Whilst the definition of a gift includes the provision of a service, volunteer labour is excluded.

Are there any other restrictions on the provision of a gift to a candidate?

Gifts to candidates are permissible, as long as they are appropriately disclosed (where required) by the candidate. Although the provision of a gift is not an illegal practice, candidates and others are subject to the requirements of s57 of the LGEA which provides that a person who offers or gives a bribe with a view to inducing a person to submit or withdraw candidature, influence votes or otherwise interfere with the election if guilty of an offence.

A bribe includes any pecuniary sum or material advantage including food, drink or entertainment where the value is equal to or more than $20.

It should be noted that it is unlawful to receive a gift of $500 or more unless the required details (name, address, etc) to identify the donor are obtained by the candidate. Records should be kept by the candidate.

What if I do not receive any donations over $2,500? Do I still need to lodge a NIL large gift return?

No. You do not need to lodge a large gift return unless you receive a gift (or gifts from the same donor) over $2,500.

Where do I find further information?

Information is current as of 13 January 2023.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this FAQ guide is general in nature. Candidates and others should refer to the specific wording of the Act and Regulations and seek independent legal or other advice on any issues of interpretation that may arise.