Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability

Financial performance and future operations

Appendices

References

Output 2.1.2 - Party registrations

Updated: 22 December 2010

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The AEC maintains the Register of Political Parties. It processes applications for registration and for changes to the details contained in the register. It also regularly reviews parties' continuing eligibility for registration.

Overview

The AEC maintains the Register of Political Parties, as required by the Electoral Act. Registration of a political party under Part XI of the Electoral Act enables:

  • the party name or abbreviation to be included on the ballot papers for endorsed candidates and Senate groups
  • the party to nominate its candidates over the signature of its registered officer, rather than the signatures of 50 eligible electors from each electorate
  • a bulk nomination of a party's endorsed House of Representatives candidates to the Australian Electoral Officer in a capital city office instead of separate nominations to each Divisional Returning Officer at their divisional office
  • parties (instead of the candidates themselves) to receive public funding in respect of their endorsed candidates who poll above the threshold (4 percent of votes)
  • the AEC to identify parties required to submit annual financial disclosure returns for public inspection
  • parties to receive enrolment and election information.

The AEC receives and processes applications for registration and for changes to the details contained in the register. It also reviews each party's continuing eligibility for registration, once in the life of each parliament.

The Register of Political Parties is available for public inspection on the AEC website.

Table 13 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for Output 2.1.2 in the 2008–09 Portfolio Budget Statements.

Table 13 Output 2.1.2 – Party registrations: performance results
Key performance indicators Targets Results
Party registration applications processed in accordance with legislation Register of Political Parties is updated in a timely manner On 1 July 2008, there were six outstanding applications carried over from 2007–08. The AEC received 13 party applications during 2008–09 and completed the processing of 12 applications. On 30 June 2009, there were seven applications not yet finalised that will be carried over for completion in 2009–10.

The AEC received 17 changes to registered officers during 2008–09 and completed 16. One was carried over to 2009–10.

Performance

Total applications for additions to or changes in the Register of Political Parties (including appeals against party registration decisions) were received at almost the same level in 2008–09 as in 2007–08. In 2008–09, only one-quarter were for registrations of new political parties. Notifications of changes to party officeholder information were received at two-thirds the rate seen in 2007–08, when parties were ensuring that the AEC's records were up to date in the lead-up to the 2007 federal election.

Applications related to party registration and change of name

Thirteen applications to register a political party, deregister a political party, change a registered name or seek a review of a delegate's decision were lodged in 2008 – This was an increase of one compared to 2007–08.

Six party registration applications were carried forward from 2007–08 and completed in 2008–09. Thirteen applications were received in 2008–09, of which three were to register a political party, two were to change the name of a party, three were for voluntary deregistration and five were for review of a delegate's decision. At 30 June 2009, the AEC carried over one application to register a political party, one application for change of name and five applications for review of a delegate's decision, to be finalised in 2009–10.

The AEC also finalised the processing of applications for re-registration following the December 2006 bulk deregistration of parties which could not demonstrate that they had been represented in the federal parliament. Finalisation of some applications had been delayed until 2008–09 because the political parties concerned requested more time to amend their applications.

During 2008–09, the Register of Political Parties was available on the AEC website at all times and was updated as soon as registration applications were determined.

The AEC considered an application for review of a delegate's decision to refuse re-registration to the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party. The application for review was on the ground that the AEC should not independently test the party's membership to be satisfied that the party has the 500 members to be eligible for registration, but should rely on the statutory declaration from the party secretary regarding its membership. The delegate's decision was upheld.

The AEC will soon consider two applications it received for review of two separate decisions made by its delegate in 2008–09 to allow party names to be registered.

The first decision was to permit the Liberty and Democracy Party to change its name to the Liberal Democratic Party and its abbreviation Liberal Democrats (LDP), where branches of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Democrats are registered. The second decision was to permit the registration of the Communist Alliance when the Community Alliance Party (ACT) is registered under the Australian Capital Territory party registration scheme. The registration of a new party name with some similarity to a party name already registered at Commonwealth, state or territory level is proving to be one of the most complex elements in assessing a party registration application.

The AEC reviews the continuing eligibility of registered parties once in the life of each federal parliament. The AEC reviewed four parties in 2008–09:

  • The Australian Democrats and The NSW Greens were reviewed when each party lost its representation in the federal parliament on 1 July 2008 – both parties retained their registration.
  • The Queensland branches of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia were reviewed following the registration of the amalgamated Liberal National Party of Queensland. During the review process, these two parties requested voluntary deregistration and were subsequently deregistered.

Remaining registered political parties will be reviewed in 2009–10. The AEC will also complete a review of the Federal Registration of Political Parties Handbook and the party registration forms. In addition, the AEC will complete a review of the party membership test through which the AEC tests parties' claims to have 500 members eligible for electoral enrolment who are not being used to support the registration of another political party.

The AEC is expecting the number of new registration applications to remain low initially and increase towards the end of 2009–10, as the expected 2010 federal election comes closer.

Applications to update party officeholder information

In 2008–09, the AEC received 17 applications to change the registered officer of a political party and processed 16 of those. The application carried over to 2009–10 has been delayed because of an unresolved dispute within the party. The AEC also received 94 applications to change other party officials, such as deputy registered officers and party secretaries. The latter figure includes 37 applications to change party and branch agents required for the funding and disclosure scheme, but processed and recorded as part of the party registration scheme.

The figures for 2008–09 are lower than the 28 applications to change registered officers and 117 changes to other party officials in 2007–08. This may reflect a higher priority given by parties to updating their records immediately prior to the 2007 federal election and, particularly, leading up to the close of nominations for that election. Although the AEC writes to registered parties seeking updates to their registered officials each year, this matter seems to be a priority for parties only in the lead-up to an election.