FAQs - Funding, Disclosure and Compliance

What is a declaration?

Political parties, elected members, candidates, groups and third-party campaigners have an obligation to lodge a declaration annually on a financial year basis. Political donations made and received and electoral expenditure incurred by them is disclosed in a declaration. Amended declarations may be lodged to add, delete or change the disclosures.

The declaration is similar to a statutory declaration in that the party agent or official agent declares "all the donations and expenditures required to be disclosed have been disclosed". The declaration must be certified by a registered company auditor which is an auditor registered under the Corporations Act.

Declarations made by a political party must include a copy of the audited annual financial statement of the party for that financial year.

Every declaration received is published here.

Who lodges a declaration?

Party agents lodge declarations on behalf of political parties and official agents lodge declarations on behalf of elected members, candidates, groups and third-party campaigners. Party agents and official agents must be appointed and registered in accordance with the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981.

When are declarations lodged?

Declarations of expenditure and donations are lodged with the NSW Electoral Commission's Funding Disclosure and Compliance Branch annually. Declarations cover a financial year and must be lodged by 22 September (except for political donors in which case declarations must be lodged by 20 October).

Claims for public funding and declarations are lodged in accordance with the rules for the particular Fund.

How could a declaration be found to breach electoral laws?

Declarations must be lodged in the form and manner approved by the NSW Electoral Commission. The party agent, official agent or political donor could commit an offence if they fail to lodge a declaration, lodge a declaration late, fail to provide a certificate from a registered auditor (except for political donors) or make a false statement in the declaration, that is, saying that everything has been disclosed when the agent or donor knows that this is false or does not reasonably believe it is true.

How does a person lodging a declaration know it will meet the standard required by the NSW electoral laws?

It is the responsibility of the party agent, official agent or political donor to keep complete and accurate records of donations and expenditure to satisfy themselves that all the information required to be disclosed has been, and then sign and lodge the declaration.

Can the Electoral Commissioner's staff assist party agents, official agents and political donors with their declaration obligations?

The Funding, Disclosure and Compliance Branch has a role in educating and building awareness of how to comply with the legislation. While the agency staff cannot provide legal advice they can assist people in understanding the disclosure process and obligations.

Claims for public funding

A party's, elected member's or candidate's claim for funding must include a declaration of expenditure incurred, for which the party, member or candidate is seeking reimbursement. Declarations are important documents under NSW electoral laws as they ensure that expenditure was incurred and is claimed in accordance with the provisions of the law.

Parties, elected members and candidates can make claims for funding from the following Funds (note that public funding does not apply to local government elections or local councillors):

  1. Election Campaigns Fund – eligible parties and candidates can claim electoral communication expenditure incurred during a State election. There are strict criteria for eligibility.
  2. Administration Fund – independent MP's and registered political parties that have sitting Members of Parliament are entitled to Administration Funding. This is to reimburse parties and independent MP's for administration and operating expenditure.
  3. Policy Development Fund – eligible registered political parties that are not entitled to Administration funding can apply for Policy Development funding.

Information about public funding.

Can campaign related or administration funding be withheld from a political party?

Yes. The 3 member NSW Electoral Commission can decide at a meeting to withhold funding from a political party, elected member or candidate if the party, elected member or candidate has an outstanding declaration of donations and expenditure, or, in the case of parties, the party has failed to provide audited annual financial statements. The power to withhold funding is permitted under the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981.