AEC Annual Report 2016–17
Contents

Party registration and financial disclosure

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Register of Political Parties

The AEC maintains the Register of Political Parties as required under Part XI of the Electoral Act, and advises political parties on applying for and maintaining registration.

The AEC also receives and processes applications for new party registration, reviews registered political parties’ eligibility to remain on the register and manages the process for updating or changing party officials such as the registered officer.

Political parties are not required to register with the AEC. However, for those that do, there are potential benefits such as public election funding (provided a threshold proportion of first preference votes is received), and the ability to have the party name or abbreviation and their registered logo printed on ballot papers. Benefits and obligations are outlined in the Party Registration Guide available on the AEC website.

The AEC also provides updated party registration information on its website including:

  • the current Register of Political Parties (including registered party names, abbreviations, logos, registered officer details and whether the party wishes to receive election funding)
  • notices regarding party registration required under the Electoral Act
  • historical information
  • the Party Registration Guide
  • statements of reasons for decisions on applications
  • forms and explanations to assist parties making applications.

Party registration related applications and requests

In 2016–17, the AEC registered five new political parties and received five applications to deregister a political party. These numbers are significantly lower than those for 2015–16, and follow the historical pattern of increased registrations in the year before a federal election and a decrease in the year the election is held.

Requests for review of party registration decisions

Section 141 of the Electoral Act provides for a review of certain party registration decisions made by the delegate of the AEC.

In 2016–17, the AEC received two applications requesting a review of its delegate’s decision not to approve the applications for registration as a political party. These were still under consideration as at 30 June 2017.

During 2016–17, three reviews were determined:

  • two concerning approval to register the logo of a party
  • one concerning approval to register the abbreviation of a party.

Further details are available on the AEC website.

Table 13: Party registration related applications and requests, 2016–17
Application/requests Approved

Register a new political party

5

Voluntarily deregister political party

5

Change party details (including name, abbreviation and logo)

18

Update party office holder information – change registered officer

12

Update party office holder information – change other party officials

55

Review of decision by the delegate of the Electoral Commission

3

Only 37 electoral division names used in 1901 are still in use

Transparency of political funding

The Commonwealth funding and financial disclosure scheme, established under Part XX of the Electoral Act, outlines the requirements about disclosing detailed financial information regarding donations to political parties and election campaigns.

The disclosure scheme requires that the following groups and individuals lodge annual or election period financial disclosure returns with the AEC:

  • political candidates
  • political parties and their associated entities
  • donors (individuals and organisations)
  • third parties
  • other participants in the electoral process.

Financial disclosure returns

During 2016–17, the AEC received 1,636 election returns and 868 annual financial disclosure returns and amendments. These included:

  • 1,636 election returns from the 2016 federal election
  • 722 returns and 62 amendments for the 2015–16 financial year
  • 12 returns and 31 amendments for the 2014–15 financial year
  • 28 returns and 13 amendments relating to returns received before 2014–15.

Political party and associated entity financial disclosure returns for 2016–17 are due on 20 October 2017. Donor and third party returns for 2016–17 are due on 17 November 2017. These returns will be published on the AEC website on the first working day in February 2018. Table 14 shows the number of returns lodged for the past three financial years.

Table 14: Financial disclosure returns lodged and published in previous financial years
Return type 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17

Annual returns

Political party

92

85

93

Political party – amendment

35

41

47

Associated entity

189

186

188

Associated entity – amendment

8

18

17

Donor

360

239

423

Donor – amendment

34

26

42

Political expenditure

35

32

58

Political expenditure – amendment

3

0

0

Election returns

Candidate

49 a

25 b

1,617

Senate groups

1 a

0

11

Election donor

0

0

8

Total financial disclosure returns lodged

806

652

2,504

  1. 2014–15 WA Senate election (returns were received across two financial years).
  2. 2015–16 North Sydney and Canning by-elections.

Online lodgement of returns is available through the AEC’s eReturns system, which is a secure portal on the AEC website. Online lodgement has continued to increase. In 2016–17, 69 per cent of returns were completed online.

Compliance reviews of disclosure returns

The AEC undertakes compliance reviews of disclosure returns lodged by political parties and associated entities under section 316(2A) of the Electoral Act. These are undertaken on an annual basis focusing on the most recent returns lodged. In 2016–17, the AEC completed 31 compliance reviews of disclosure returns lodged by political parties and associated entities. Of the 31 completed reviews, 24 resulted in an amended return being lodged by the relevant party or entity.

Table 15: Compliance reviews completed in previous financial years
Return type 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17

Political party

7

14

17

Associated entity

9

14

14

Total

16

28

31

Election funding

The AEC calculates the election funding rate for each vote received by candidates and Senate groups that reached a threshold of 4 per cent of the formal first preference vote. Every six months, the election funding rate is adjusted in line with the consumer price index and published on the AEC website.

The election funding rates during 2016–17 were:

  • 262.784 cents per first preference vote for 1 July to 31 December 2016
  • 265.675 cents per first preference vote for 1 January to 30 June 2017.

The Electoral Act requires that at least 95 per cent of election funding entitlements, calculated on votes counted as at the 20th day after polling day, be paid as soon as possible. The balance of entitlements must be paid when the counting of votes is finalised.

The federal election was held on 2 July 2016. The AEC approved and processed the initial payments of election funding on 27 July 2016 based on the vote count at the 20th day after polling day. A payment of 99 per cent of the entitlement was made to all parties and independent candidates with the precondition that a minimum of $200 was withheld until the count was finalised.

Of a total of $62,778,275.03 in election funding, $60,466,642.44 was paid in the initial payments and $2,311,632.59 was paid at the completion of the vote count. Refer to Appendix H for a breakdown of funding paid.

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