Changes to the Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) now require charities that spend money to influence voters in a federal election to register and report expenditure to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Depending on the level of expenditure, a charity may be subject to disclosure requirements as:
- a political campaigner; or
- a third party.
To be a “political campaigner” and subject to political campaigner disclosure requirements your organisation’s “electoral expenditure” must be:
- $500,0000 or more in the current or previous three financial years; or
- $100,000 or more during that financial year and electoral expenditure in the previous years was at least two-thirds of revenue for the organisation.
If your organisation is a political campaigner, you must:
- provide an annual return to the AEC within 16 weeks of the end of your financial year; and
- comply with foreign donation restrictions.
To be a “third party” subject to third party disclosure requirements your organisation must incur “electoral expenditure” over the disclosure threshold in a financial year but below the amount to register as a “political campaigner”.
This disclosure threshold is currently $13,800. You do not need to report expenditure under this limit. Expenditure over this limit must be reported by 17 November each year.
We have produced a factsheet for our clients detailing these changes which is available by contacting us. We can also assist organisations by reviewing expenditure to determine whether it falls within the scope of the Act. If you require further assistance please let us know.