Caps on Electoral Expenditure

Electoral communication expenditure incurred in connection with a State election is capped during the capped expenditure period for the election. Caps on electoral communication expenditure apply to:

  • political parties
  • groups of candidates
  • candidates
  • third-party campaigners

The capped expenditure period for a State general election is the period:

  • commencing 1 October in the year before the election, and
  • ending on election day.

The capped expenditure period for a State by-election is the period:

  • commencing on the day of the issue of the writ for the by-election, and
  • ending on election day.

For the purpose of the expenditure caps, electoral communication expenditure is incurred when the services are provided by the supplier or when the goods are delivered. For example,

  • advertising expenditure is incurred when the advertising is broadcast or published,
  • expenditure on the production and distribution of election material is incurred when the material is distributed, and
  • expenditure on employing staff is incurred during the period the staff member is employed.

It is unlawful for a political party, candidate, group of candidates or third-party campaigner to exceed the cap on electoral communication expenditure during the capped expenditure period for a State election.

A person who incurs electoral communication expenditure in excess of the cap during the capped expenditure period for a State election may have committed a serious offence and may be prosecuted by the NSWEC.

The expenditure caps are adjusted for inflation every four years. At the 2015 State election the expenditure caps were taken back to the levels at the 2011 State election.

The applicable caps on electoral communication expenditure are as follows:

Parties with more than 10 Legislative Assembly candidates in a general electionCap
2011 State Election $100,000
27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015 $111,200
2015 State Election $100,000
29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019 $122,900
Parties with Legislative Council candidates in a general election 
2011 State Election $1,050,000
27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015 $1,166,600
2015 State Election $1,050,000
29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019 $1,288,500
Independent groups of candidates in Legislative Council general elections 
2011 State Election $1,050,000
27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015 $1,166,600
2015 State Election $1,050,000
29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019 $1,288,500
Party candidates in Legislative Assembly general election 
2011 State Election $100,000
27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015 $111,200
2015 State Election $100,000
29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019 $122,900
Non-grouped candidates in Legislative Council general election 
2011 State Election $150,000
27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015 $166,700
2015 State Election $150,000
29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019 $184,200
Candidates in Legislative Assembly by-elections 
2011 State Election $200,000
27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015 $222,300
29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019 $245,600
Independent candidates in Legislative Assembly general election 
2011 State Election $150,000
27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015 $166,700
2015 State Election $150,000
29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019 $184,200
Third-party campaigners 
2011 State Election For a State general election:
  • $1,050,000 if the third-party campaigner was registered prior to the commencement of the capped expenditure period for the election, or
  • $525,000 if the third-party campaigner was not registered prior to the commencement of the capped expenditure period for the election.

For a by-election for the Assembly, $20,000.

27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015 For a State general election:
  • $1,166,600 if the third-party campaigner was registered prior to the commencement of the capped expenditure period for the election, or
  • $583,300 if the third-party campaigner was not registered prior to the commencement of the capped expenditure period for the election.

For a by-election for the Assembly, $22,300.

2015 State Election For a State general election:
  • $1,050,000 if the third-party campaigner was registered prior to the commencement of the capped expenditure period for the election, or
  • $525,000 if the third-party campaigner was not registered prior to the commencement of the capped expenditure period for the election.

For a by-election for the Assembly, $20,000.

29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019 For a State general election:
  • $1,288,500 if the third-party campaigner was registered prior to the commencement of the capped expenditure period for the election, or
  • $644,300 if the third-party campaigner was not registered prior to the commencement of the capped expenditure period for the election.

For a by-election for the Assembly, $24,700.

The cap for political parties and third-party  campaigners is subject to an additional cap (within the overall cap) in  relation to State general elections or by-elections in more than one  electorate. The additional caps in relation to an electorate are  as follows:

Additional cap for individual Legislative Assembly seats 
2011 State Election
  • $50,000 in the case of a party, or
  • $20,000 in the case of a third-party campaigner
27 March 2011 – 28 March 2015
  • $55,600 in the case of a party, or
  • $22,300 in the case of a third-party campaigner
2015 State Election
  • $50,000 in the case of a party, or
  • $20,000 in the case of a third-party campaigner
29 March 2015 – 23 March 2019
  • $61,500 in the case of a party, or
  • $24,700 in the case of a third-party campaigner

For the purpose of the additional caps electoral  communication expenditure is only incurred for an election in a particular electorate if the expenditure is for advertising or other material that:

  • explicitly mentions the name of the candidate in the election in that electorate or the name of the electorate; and
  • is communicated to electors in that electorate, and
  • is not mainly communicated to electors outside that electorate.

If electoral  communication expenditure incurred is less than the cap, the balance cannot be  transferred to any other political party or person.

The expenditure cap for a candidate or group is for  electoral communication expenditure directed at the election of the candidate  or group.