Monitoring and compliance

Updated 10 Jan 2017

Compliance review findings in relation to Part 14 of the Electoral Act 1992

As part of the Electoral Commission's August and September 2016 compliance review, it was found that the Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) has not submitted 3 gifts-in-kind that two of the party's MLAs received during 2015/2016 in thei.  returns as the party lodged three separate and different versions of the party's 2014/2015 annual return.

Compliance review findings in relation to Part 14 of the Electoral Act 1992
Name of entity Compliance issue LegislationDecision Outcome published on web
Liberal Party of Australia (A.C.T. Division) Apparent failure to disclose receipt of a gift-in-kind with a value of $1,000 or more within the required reporting period during the January/March 2016 quarter. Under section 216A of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must disclose receipt of a gift with a value of $1,000 or more within 30 days of the end of the January/March in an election year.

As part of the Electoral Commission's August and September 2016 compliance review, it was found that the Liberal Party of Australia (A.C.T. Division) had not disclosed a gift-in-kind received by a party MLA, in their capacity as an MLA or Minister, during 2015/2016.

It is apparent that there have been some misunderstandings regarding regular disclosure of gifts or gifts-in-kind received by MLAs and the requirement for disclosure by both the MLA and his or her respective party grouping.

While the Commissioner considered that a breach may have occurred, the issuing of a formal warning letter was sufficient in this instance.

10 January 2017
Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) Apparent failure to disclose 2 gift-in-kind receipts each with a value of $1,000 or more within the required reporting period during the October/December 2015 quarter.

And

Apparent failure to disclose receipt of a gift-in-kind with a value of $1,000 or more within the required reporting period during the April/June 2016 quarter.
Under section 216A of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must disclose receipt of a gift with a value of $1,000 or more within 30 days of the end of the quarter where the gift is received during a non-election year, or where the gift is received after 30 June in an election year, the gift must be disclosed within 7 days of receipt.

As part of the Electoral Commission's August and September 2016 compliance review, it was found that the Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) had not disclosed details in regard to 3 gifts-in-kind received by two party MLAs during 2015/2016.

It is apparent that there have been some misunderstandings regarding regular disclosure of gifts or gifts-in-kind received by MLAs and the requirement for disclosure by both the MLA and his or her respective party grouping.

While the Commissioner considered that a breach may have occurred, the issuing of a formal warning letter was sufficient in this instance.

10 January 2017
Liberal Democratic Party Apparent failure to disclose 2 gift receipts with a combined value of $1,000 or more within the required reporting period in September 2016. Under section 216A of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must disclose receipt of a gift or gifts from the same person totaling $1,000 or more and received after 30 June in an election year, within 7 days of the total amount reaching the $1,000 threshold.

The Liberal Democratic Party was found to have been one day late in disclosing details in regard to the 2 gifts from the same person totaling $1,000 or more.

The Commissioner considered that, while a breach may have occurred, the matter could not be considered materially significant and given the infrequent nature of the party's receipt of gifts, the issuing of a formal warning letter was sufficient in this instance.

10 January 2017
Liberal Democratic Party Late disclosure of 3 gift returns that reached the $1,000 reporting threshold during the April to June 2016 quarter. Section 216A of the Electoral Act provides that, in relation to a gift totaling $1,000 or more received in the April-June quarter in an election year, a party must submit a gift return within 7 days of the end of the quarter.

During the processing of the party’s 2015-2016 annual return, the party was found to have been late in disclosing 3 gift returns. There has been an apparent misunderstanding of the disclosure reporting obligations.

The Commissioner considered that the issuing of a formal warning letter was sufficient in this instance.

23 August 2016
Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) Significant variations between the amounts reported in the party's initial 2014/2015 annual return and the amounts reported following
the party's internal financial audit
Section 236(2) of the Electoral Act provides that a person commits an offence if he or she is required to submit a return and that return is submitted incomplete.

As part of the Electoral Commission's November 2015 compliance review, it was found that the Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) may have initially submitted incomplete returns as the party lodged three separate and different versions of the party's 2014/2015 annual return. The party raised a number of issues related to the party's financial reporting processes that contributed to the reporting of differing amounts:

  • The loss of corporate knowledge following the departure of the party's bookkeeper;
  • The need to disclose financial records prior to the formal auditing of the party's financial statement; and
  • Challenges associated with reconciling financial records between different accounting methods.

The Commissioner considered that given the past compliance history of ACT Labor, the high level of co-operation exhibited by the party and the party's commitment to ensuring disclosure returns are lodged as accurately as possible in the future, the issuing of a formal warning letter was sufficient in this instance.

12 May 2016
The 1973 Foundation Apparent failure to correctly report $2.5 million received from the Canberra Labor Club in the 1973 Foundation’s 2013/2014 annual return. Under section 232(2) of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives of the associated entity must submit an annual return that includes details of amounts received by the associated entity from a particular person or organisation of $1,000 or more. As part of the Electoral Commission’s December 2014 compliance review, the 1973 Foundation was found to have incorrectly reported the receipt of $2.5 million from the Canberra Labor Club in the relevant part of its 2013/2014 annual return.

This substantial amount was included in the list of ‘organisations who deposited capital’ section of the return.  However, the amount was not included in the total receipts or the listing of receipts in excess of $1,000 sections of the return.

The associated entity has since provided an amended return for this omission.

No formal warning letter was issued.

12 May 2015
Liberal Party of Australia (A.C.T. Division) Whether discounted rental amounts charged in relation to the Canberra Liberals’ tenancy of 221 London Circuit, Canberra constituted gifts-in-kind.

If so, whether such amounts should have been disclosed in gift returns and annual returns for 2012/2013 and 2013/2014.

Under section 216A of the Electoral Act during the period in which these payments were made, prescribed financial representatives must have submitted a gift return within 7 days or 30 days of receipt of a gift totalling $1,000 or more.

Under section 232 of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must submit an annual return that includes details of amounts received by the party from a particular person or organisation of $1,000 or more, including gifts-in-kind.

The fact that discounted rental amounts may have been charged in relation to the Canberra Liberals’ tenancy lease became apparent in the course of the Electoral Commission’s December 2014 compliance review.  The party was asked to provide further explanation.  Relevant lease documents were obtained and an assessment was performed. The Commissioner was satisfied that the lease payments for 221 London Circuit were market rates and therefore did not constitute gifts-in-kind.  In reaching this decision the following factors were taken into account:
  • The party provided copies of lease documents in relation to its tenancy of 221 London Circuit;
  • A high level of co-operation was exhibited by the party during the investigation into the issue; and
  • The party provided sufficient evidence that they had negotiated the lease agreement as part of  a normal commercial negotiation process.

No formal warning letter was issued.

12 May 2015
Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) Apparent failure to submit 18 gift returns for the period between 1/7/13 and 30/6/14 by the due date. The gift returns relate to room hire received as gifts-in-kind. Under section 216A of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must submit a gift return within 30 days of receipt of a gift totalling $1,000 or more where the gift is received during a non-election period. The party was found to have been late in disclosing a total of 18 gift returns. No penalty was imposed. In reaching this decision the following factors were taken into account:
  • The party grouping’s satisfactory past compliance history;
  • The high level of co-operation that has been exhibited by the party grouping;
  • The unintentional nature of the breach given the difficulties encountered in receiving timely notice of room hire details; and
  • The restorative actions proposed to ensure that timely disclosure of room hire will occur in future.
12 September 2014
Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) Late disclosure of 2 gift returns that reached the $1,000 reporting threshold for the period 21/11/13 to 11/12/13. Under section 216A of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must submit a gift return within 30 days of receipt of a gift totalling $1,000 or more where the gift is received during a non-election period. The party was issued with a formal warning letter in relation to the 2 late gift returns. The Commissioner considered that given the past compliance history of ACT Labor, the issuing of a formal warning letter was sufficient in this instance.   27 February 2014
Liberal Party of Australia (A.C.T. Division) Failure to submit 15 gift returns for gift amounts that reached the $1,000 reporting threshold for the period 29/8/13 to 29/10/13. Under section 216A of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must submit a gift return within 30 days of receipt of a gift totalling $1,000 or more where the gift is received during a non-election period. The party was found to be in breach of the Act for each of the 15 gift returns and was issued with an infringement notice on 2/12/13. This notice imposed a penalty of $16,500 with a payment date of 30/12/13.

The Canberra Liberals were granted an extension of 28 days to pay the penalty on 12/12/13. The penalty payment was received on 22/1/14.
19 December 2013
Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch) Failure to submit 1 gift return for 2 gift amounts that reached the $1,000 reporting threshold for the period 26/9/13 to 4/11/13. Under section 216A of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must submit a gift return within 30 days of receipt of a gift totalling $1,000 or more where the gift is received during a non-election period. The disclosure date of 1 gift return was found to be in breach of the Act. The Commissioner considered that given the past compliance history of ACT Labor, the issuing of a formal warning letter was sufficient in this instance. 19 December 2013
The ACT Greens Failure to submit a gift return for a sum of gifts that reached the $1,000 reporting threshold for the period 8/7/13 to 11/11/13. Under section 216A of the Electoral Act, prescribed financial representatives must submit a gift return within 30 days of receipt of a gift totalling $1,000 or more where the gift is received during a non-election period. The disclosure date of 1 gift return was found to be in breach of the Act. The Commissioner considered that given the past compliance history of The ACT Greens, the issuing of a formal warning letter was sufficient in this instance. 19 December 2013