General funding and disclosure FAQ

Updated 20 Mar 2015

The are a range of entities that have financial disclosure reporting obligations in relation to elections for the ACT Legislative Assembly.

The categories of ACT political entities are:

  • Party grouping: consisting of a registered political party and its MLAs, candidates and prospective candidates.
  • Non-party MLA: an MLA who is not a member of a party.
  • Non-party candidate grouping: after nominations have been declared, consisting of a candidate who is not a party candidate and any other person who has incurred electoral expenditure with the authority of the candidate.
  • Non-party prospective candidate grouping: before nominations have been declared, consisting of a person who has been publicly announced as a non-party candidate and any other person who has incurred electoral expenditure with the authority of the candidate. For the purpose of this FAQ, any reference to a non-party candidate grouping also covers non-party prospective candidate groupings.
  • Associated entity: an entity that is controlled by 1 or more parties or MLAs or that operates, completely or to a significant extent, for the benefit of 1 or more parties or MLAs
  • Third party campaigner: a person or entity that incurs $1,000 or more in electoral expenditure in the disclosure period for an election, not including parties, MLAs, associated entities, candidates, prospective candidates, broadcasters, publishers, Australian government bodies or the Legislative Assembly.

Note that, while MLAs are covered under some reporting requirements for a party grouping, they are also required to submit individual annual returns.

Although broadcasters and publishers are not classified as a political entity, any broadcasters and publishers who broadcast or publish electoral advertisements before an election are required to submit an election return.

The financial representative of a political entity in the ACT is responsible for submitting any financial disclosure returns required of that entity.  

The financial representative for:

  • A party grouping or political party, is the reporting agent of the party;
  • An MLA is the MLA, although they may nominate a reporting agent if they prefer;
  • A non-party MLA, is the MLA;
  • A non-party candidate grouping, is the candidate;
  • An associated entity, is the entity’s financial controller;
  • A third party campaigner, is the third party campaigner where the entity is an individual; and, in any other case, the managing director (however described) of the third party campaigner.

Form for nominating a reporting agent for an MLA

Form for nominating a reporting agent for a registered political party

Political entities Annual return (due 31 August after relevant financial year) Gift return $1,000 or more Election return (due within 60 days after polling day for political entities and within 8 weeks of polling day for broadcasters and publishers) Post-election gift return* (due within 60 days after polling day)
Political party Yes Included under party grouping Included under party grouping -
Party grouping - Yes Yes -
MLA Yes Included under party grouping Included under party grouping -
Non-party MLA Yes Yes Yes -
Non-party candidate grouping - Yes Yes Yes
Associated entity Yes Yes. As of 3 March 2015, associated entities must disclose gifts independent from any associated party or MLA Yes. As of 3 March 2015, associated entities must submit election returns independent from any associated party or MLA -
Third party campaigner - - Yes, when electoral expenditure of more than $1,000 is incurred during relevant disclosure period Only if gifts of $1,000 or more are received during relevant disclosure period and are used to incur electoral expenditure
Broadcasters and publishers - - Yes -
*Note that this form is included as part of the election return form

For further information regarding lodgement dates for gift returns see "Do I have to make regular disclosures of gifts received, and by when?" on the Gifts FAQ page.

For further information see the question below "What are the relevant disclosure periods? How do they apply to my situation?"

Generally yes. Even if no relevant amounts apply in a financial year, nil returns must still in most cases be submitted by parties, MLAs, associated entities, candidates and/or their respective groupings. However:

  • Party groupings do not need to submit a nil return for an election if they did not contest the election; and
  • Third party campaigners are not required to submit nil returns, as third party campaigners only qualify as such if they incur more than $1,000 in electoral expenditure during the relevant disclosure period.

Nil returns are subject to the same lodgement dates as other respective returns.

The relevant disclosure period for party groupings, associated entities and non-party MLAs in relation to gift returns is a financial year. When submitting annual returns, the disclosure period for political parties, MLAs and associated entities is also a financial year.

For non-party candidate groupings, the disclosure period for election and gift returns begins on the 31st day after the previous election if the candidate contested that election, or the earlier of:

  • the date the candidate publically announced he or she would be a candidate; or
  • the date the candidate was nominated as a candidate.

The disclosure period for non-party candidate groupings ends on the 30th day after the relevant election.

The disclosure period for election returns submitted by third party campaigners is the period beginning on the 31st day after the previous election, and ending on the 30th day after the relevant election.

Disclosure periods for non-party candidate groupings and third party campaigners for the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election:

Entity Event Disclosure period begins Disclosure period ends
Third party campaigner
  • Election return
20 November 2012 14 November 2016
Non-party candidate grouping
  • Election return
  • Gift returns

20 November 2012 if the candidate contested the 20 October 2012 election, or else the earlier of:

  • the date the candidate publically announced he or she would be a candidate; or
  • the date the candidate was nominated as a candidate.
14 November 2016

Returns can be lodged with the Commission in a number of ways, including electronically. Forms for annual and election returns, and forms for the reporting of gifts received totalling $1,000 or more, can be downloaded from the funding and disclosure forms page of this website. Once completed, these forms can be returned to Elections ACT by post or fax, or scanned and sent via email.

The details of a return of gifts received may be provided in an Excel spreadsheet, so long as all the information is presented in the required format. Contact Elections ACT for further details on this option.

An easy way to lodge your return of gifts received or your annual return is by using the Elections ACT online lodgement form. To use this method you will first need to contact Elections ACT to obtain a logon and password. Once you have received your login details, go to the online lodgement page of this website.

If entering details for a party grouping, the name of the party and the reporting agent’s name will be pre-filled from details of the registration of the agent. The details cannot be amended on the form. If the details have changed, contact Elections ACT. The reporting agent’s email and phone contact details will also be pre-filled, but may be updated on the form.

If entering details for an associated entity, the name of the entity’s financial controller, address, email and phone contact details will be prefilled from the information provided when obtaining the logon and password. The entity’s financial controller email and phone contact details can be updated on the form.

If entering details for a non-party candidate grouping or non-party MLA, the name, address, email and phone contact details of the candidate or MLA will be prefilled from the information provided when obtaining the logon and password. The name cannot be changed, but the other details can be updated on the form.

Where a person cannot obtain all the details needed to complete a return, that person should fill out as many details as possible and give written notice to the Commissioner specifying the details that have not been obtained, the reason the details could not be obtained, the name and address of the person believed to have these details and the reason for that belief. Note that this clause should only be used for exceptional circumstances – it does not replace a financial representative’s obligation to keep complete and accurate records throughout the disclosure period.

All returns become public documents, with information disclosed in returns placed on the Commission’s website. Any person may also, on request, examine returns at the Elections ACT office during business hours.

All annual returns are made available for inspection at the beginning of September in the year of lodgement.

Election returns are made available for inspection from the beginning of February in the year after polling day.

Returns of gifts of $1,000 or more are made available for inspection as soon as practicable after they are received. This will generally be within a week.

Following an amendment to the Electoral Act 1992 commencing on 3 March 2015, the Electoral Commissioner is not permitted to publish an individual donor’s home address provided in a disclosure return on the Elections ACT website – instead the donor’s suburb, postcode or post office box details are to be made available on the website. Full address details will still be available for public inspection at the office of the Electoral Commissioner.

The Electoral Act requires that records used to complete election disclosure returns, or that might be relevant to completing an election return (whether disclosed in the return or not) must be retained for a minimum period of 4 years from the polling day in the election to which the returns relate. Similarly, records relating to annual returns must be kept for not less than 4 years from the due date for the return.