Australia

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Question Value
1. Is there a ban on donations from foreign interests to political parties?
  • CodeYes
  • Comment

    "In late 2018 the Parliament passed legislation to ban political donations of $1,000 or more from foreign sources."

    Source: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook46p/PoliticalFinance

    The Electoral Legislation Amendment  (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018 intoduced a number of amendments to restrict donations to poltical parties, candidates, associated entities and third parties and increase transparency of donations.  

    Source: Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act, 2018.  

     

  • Source

    "In late 2018 the Parliament passed legislation to ban political donations of $1,000 or more from foreign sources."

    Source: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook46p/PoliticalFinance

    Restrictions on gifts from foreign donors came into effect from January 1st 2019 as a result of the passage of the Electoral Legislation Amendment  (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018. 

    . "Gifts of over $1,000 to political entities (broadly, registered political parties, candidates and Senate groups) or political campaigners must not be made by foreign donors. A foreign donor is a person who does not have a connection to Australia, such as a person who is not an Australian citizen or an entity that does not have a significant business presence in Australia" .

    "A foreign donor must not make gifts to a political party or political campaigner for $100 or more if the purpose is for the gift to be used for electoral expenditure or for creating or communicating electoral matter".

    Sources:  Section 302 Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Compilation 63).

    Australian Electoral Commission, Foreign Donations   https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/financial_disclosure/Overview.htm

     

2. Is there a ban on donations from foreign interests to candidates?
3. Is there a ban on corporate donations to political parties?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment

    The financial disclosure scheme for Federal elections was amended with effect from 8 December 2005 to increase the threshold to ‘more than $10 000’. This amount is indexed with effect from 1 July each year based on increases in the consumer price index. The disclosure threshold amount that will apply from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 is more than $14,000. Electoral legislation in some States and Territories  ban donations from particular classes of donors e.g. Queensland law bans political donations from property developers. Electoral legislation in some States and Territories  ban donations from particular classes of donors e.g. Queensland law bans political donations from property developers.

    Source: Australian Electoral Commission, Disclosure Threshold  https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/public_funding/threshold.htm

    Source: Queensland Electoral Commission, Prohibited Donors Scheme   https://www.ecq.qld.gov.au/donations-and-gift-disclosure/prohibited-donors-scheme

  • Source

    While no ban exists on corporate donations, the donation must be disclosed to the Australian Electoral Commission if it is above a certain threshold ($14,000 in 2019).  No details of donations less than the threshold set by the Australian Electoral Commission are publicly available. The Australian Electoral Commission Transparency Register lists donations from corporations to political parties for each election.

    The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility has expressed concern about the lack of transparency of corporate  donations to political parties. 

    "In Australia, for substantial sums of money across many companies, it is impossible to tell the full amount of political expenditure or the extent to which the expenditure reflects the personal whim or short-term interests of boards or genuinely advances long-term shareholder interests"

     

    Sources: Australian Electoral Commission Tranparency Register for donors, see  https://transparency.aec.gov.au/Donor

     Australian Electoral Commission, Disclosure Threshold  https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/public_funding/threshold.htm

     Australian Electoral Commission:  https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/public_funding/threshold.htm (updated 28th May 2019)

     Corporate Political Expenditure in Australia. Howard Pender, Research Director. Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, p.20 June 2016. 

    Year of data: 
    2019
    Editorial State: 
    SUBMITTED

     

4. Is there a ban on corporate donations to candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment

     The financial disclosure scheme was amended with effect from 8 December 2005 to increase the threshold to ‘more than $10 000’. This amount is indexed with effect from 1 July each year based on increases in the consumer price index. The disclosure threshold amount that will apply from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 is more than $14,000No details of donations less than the threshold allowed by the Australian Electoral Commission are publicly available. 

    Source: Australian Electoral Commission:  https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/public_funding/threshold.htm (updated 28th May 2019)

  • Source

     

    While no ban exists on corporate donations, the donations must be disclosed to the Australian Electoral Commission if it is above a certain threshold. Donations from companies to candidates are listed on the donor transparency register. 

    "In Australia, for substantial sums of money across many companies, it is impossible to tell the full amount of political expenditure or the extent to which the expenditure reflects the personal whim or short-term interests of boards or genuinely advances long-term shareholder interests"

     Sources: Australian Electoral Commission:  https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/public_funding/threshold.htm (updated 28th May 2019)

    Tranparency Register of election donations,  https://transparency.aec.gov.au/Donor

    Corporate Political Expenditure in Australia. Howard Pender, Research Director. Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, p.20 June 2016.  

5. Is there a ban on donations from Trade Unions to political parties?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    The Australian Electoral Commission is required to establish and maintain a Transparency Register which lists donations to political parties by Associated  Entities which include Trade Unions.  

    Sources : Section 287N (1),  Commonwealth Electoral Act, 1918. (Compilation 68).

    Australian Electoral Commission Transparency Register for Associated Entities, see  https://transparency.aec.gov.au/AnnualAssociatedEntity

     

6. Is there a ban on donations from Trade Unions to candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    The Commonwealth funding and disclosure scheme detailed under Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act) requires associated entities, which include trade unions, to lodge annual returns. The Commission Transparency Register of associated entity returns shows the funds provided by trade unions to political parties.  

    Sources: Australian Electoral Commission associated entity returns,  https://transparency.aec.gov.au/AnnualAssociatedEntity

    Part XX, the Commonwealth Electoral Act, 1918 (Compilation 68). 

     

     

7. Is there a ban on anonymous donations to political parties?
  • CodeNo, but specific limit
  • Comment

    The section of the Commonwealth Electoral Act relating to anonymous donations was repealed when the Act was amended in 2018. 

    Source: Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018. 

  • Source

    The consquences of the current restrictions on foreign donations means that in effect the limit for anomymous donations is now $1000.  

    Source: Section 302, Commonwealth Electoral Act, 1918 (Compilation no 63).

8. Is there a ban on anonymous donations to candidates?
9. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with government contracts to political parties?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Legislation relating to donations to political parties makes no specific reference to corporations with government contracts.

    Source; Part XX, Election funding and financial disclosure, Commonwealth Electoral  Act 1918, Compilation no 68 (Registered 12.3.2019) 

10. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with government contracts to candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Legislation relating to donations to political parties makes no specific reference to corporations with government contracts to candidates.

    Source; Part XX, Election funding and financial disclosure, Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, (Compilation no 68). 

     

     

11. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with partial government ownership to political parties?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Legislation relating to donations to political parties makes no specific reference to corporations that are partially owned by government.

    Source; Part XX, Election funding and financial disclosure, Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, (Compilation no 68). 

     


     

     

12. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with partial government ownership to candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Legislation relating to donations to candidates makes no specific reference to corporations with partial government ownership.

    Source; Part XX, Election funding and financial disclosure, Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918,( Compilation no 68). 

     

     

     

     

13. Is there a ban on the use of state resources in favour or against a political party or candidate?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    There is evidence of political bias in the use of state resources. For example the National Audit Office investigation of the awarding of Federal grants under the Community Sport Infrastructure Program found that "the Minister’s Office focused on ‘marginal’ electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be ‘targeted’ by the Coalition at the 2019 Election. A total 61% of all grants approved by the Minister did not meet the  cut off score based on Sport Australia’s assessed merit". No penalty was applied to the Minister responsible for the approval of the grants. 

    Source: The  Auditor-General Report No.23 2019–20 Performance Audit of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Program.15 January 2020.

     

     

14. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during a non-election specific period?
15. If there is a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during a non-election specific period, what is the limit?
  • CodeNot applicable
  • Comment
  • Source
16. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during an election?
17. If there is a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during an election, what is the limit?
  • CodeNot applicable
  • Comment
  • Source
18. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a candidate?
19. If there is a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a candidate, what is the limit?
  • CodeNot applicable
  • Comment
  • Source
20. Is there a limit on the amount a candidate can contribute to their own election campaign?
21. Is there a limit on in-kind donations to political parties?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    The Australian Electoral Commision requires that the annual returns for organisations and and individual donars must disclose details of donations, including gifts -in-kind made to poltical parties totalling more than the disclosure threshold for donations. 

    Source: Australian Electoral Commission, Financial Disclosure Overview,  https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/financial_disclosure/Overview.htm

22. Is there a limit on in-kind donations to candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    The Australian Electoral Commision requires that the annual returns of candidates must disclose details of donations, including gifts -in-kind  totalling more than the disclosure threshold for all donations. 

    Source: Australian Electoral Commission, Financial Disclosure Guide for Candidates and Senate Groups, p.5,  

23. Is there a ban on political parties engaging in commercial activities?
24. Is there a ban on political parties taking loans in relation to election campaigns?
  • CodeYes
  • Comment
  • Source

    " (1) It is unlawful for any of the following:  (a) a political party or a State branch of a political party;  (b) a person acting on behalf of a political party or a State branch of a political party;  (c) a political campaigner, or a person acting on behalf of a political campaigner; to receive a loan of more than the disclosure threshold from a person or entity other than a financial institution unless the loan is made in accordance with subsection (3)" Subsection 3  sets out the detailed information that must be recorded about the loan. 

    Source: Section306A:  Certain loans not to be received, Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Compilation no 68).
     

25. Is there a ban on candidates taking loans in relation to election campaigns?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source
26. Is there a ban on donors to political parties/candidates participating in public tender/procurement processes?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source
27. Are there provisions requiring donations to go through the banking system?

Question Value
28. Are there provisions for direct public funding to political parties?
  • CodeYes, in relation to campaigns
  • Comment
  • Source

    Election funding may be payable in relation to registered political parties, candidates and groups. The election funding is payable in relation to any candidate who received more than 4% of the total first preference votes cast in the election. Election funding of $10,000 (as indexed) is paid as soon as practicable 20 days after the polling day for the election or elections. However, a claim must be made for election funding if more than that amount is to be paid.

    Source: Div 3, Section 292G, Commonwealth Electoral Act, 2018 (Compilation 68).

29. What are the eligibility criteria for political parties to receive public funding?
  • CodeShare of votes in previous election
  • Comment
  • Source

    Election funding may be payable in relation to registered political parties, candidates and groups. The election funding is payable in relation to any candidate who received more than 4% of the total first preference votes cast in the election.  

    Source:: Div 3, Section 292G, Commonwealth Electoral Act, 2018 (Compilation 68).

30. What is the allocation calculation for political parties to receive public funding?
  • CodeFlat rate by votes received
  • Comment
  • Source

    The current election funding rate and automatic payment amount are indexed every six months in accordance with section 321 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The rate aplying between Jan1 to 30 June 2020 was $2.801 per eligable vote and the automatic payment amount was $10,124,834. 

    Source: Australian Electoral Commission Election Funding rates https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/public_funding/Current_Funding_Rate.htm

31. What are the provisions on 'ear marking' direct public funding to political parties (how it should be used)?
  • CodeCampaign spending
  • Comment

     

     

  • Source

    If a party wishes to claim more than the automatic public funding payment of $10,000, the details of election expendiure must be provided to substantiate the claim. 

    Source: Subdivision C, Sections 297 and 298, Commonwealth Electoral Act, 2018 (Compilation 68)

32. Are there provisions for free or subsidized access to media for political parties?
33. What criteria determine allocation for free or subsidized access to media for political parties?
  • CodeOther
  • Comment
  • Source

    "Under Section 79A of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983, the ABC may determine to what extent and in what manner it will broadcast political matter.  The Government and the official Opposition in an outgoing Federal, State or Territory Parliament or Assembly are granted equal time by the ABC for election broadcasts within the relevant jurisdiction during election campaigns. When political parties are in coalition, either as a Government or as the official Opposition, the ABC will provide an equal allocation of time to the Government and to the official Opposition, leaving it to the parties which are in coalition to divide the time between them as they see fit."  The ABC Board also determines criteria for 'eligible minor parties' to access 'free election broadcast time'. 

    Source:Allocation of free broadcasting time to political parties during election periods. Policy Statement Australian Broadcasting Commission October 2014 http://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/FreeTimeElectionBroadcastsPolicySep2014POL.pdf

34. Are there provisions for free or subsidized access to media for candidates?
35. Are there provisions for any other form of indirect public funding?
  • CodeTax relief
  • Comment
  • Source
    • Political gifts and contributions can be made in a personal capacity (to be tax deductible) to political parties, independent candidates and members up to a A$1,500 cap respectively ie. total deduction of A$3,000.

    • Source: Australian TaxOffice, Claiming Political Contributions and Gifts

    • https://www.ato.gov.au/Non-profit/Gifts-and-fundraising/In-detail/Fundraising/Claiming-political-contributions-and-gifts/

36. Is the provision of direct public funding to political parties tied to gender equality among candidates?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source
37. Are there provisions for other financial advantages to encourage gender equality in political parties?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

Question Value
38. Is there a ban on vote buying?
  • CodeYes
  • Comment
  • Source

     Legislation provides that a person cannot ask for, receive or obtain, or give or confer, any property or benefit with the intention of influencing the vote or candidature of a person at a federal election. The electoral bribery offence does not apply to declarations of public policy or promises of public action.

    If a person is found guilty of this offence, a court may impose a penalty of imprisonment of up to 2 years or 50 penalty units, or both.

    Source:  Section 326 (1) (2)  Commonwealth Electoral Act 2018 (Compilation 68)

39. Are there limits on the amount a political party can spend?
40. If there are limits on the amount a political party can spend, what is the limit?
  • CodeNot applicable
  • Comment
  • Source
41. Are there limits on the amount a candidate can spend?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Source:  Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Compilation 68, Registered 12.3.2019)

42. If there are limits on the amount a candidate can spend, what is the limit?
  • CodeNot applicable
  • Comment
  • Source
43. Are there limits on the amount that third parties can spend on election campaign activities?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Source:  Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Compilation 68, Registered 12.3.2019)

44. Are there limits on traditional media advertising spending in relation to election campaigns?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Source:  Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Compilation 68, Registered 12.3.2019)

45. Are there limits on online media advertising spending in relation to election campaigns?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Source:  Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Compilation 68, Registered 12.3.2019)

46. Do any other restrictions on online media advertisement (beyond limits) exist?
  • CodeNo
  • Comment
  • Source

    Source:  Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Compilation 68, Registered 12.3.2019)

Question Value
47. Do political parties have to report regularly on their finances?
  • CodeYes
  • Comment

     

    A number of state and territory jurisdictions have their own disclosure schemes, which are separate to the Commonwealth funding and disclosure scheme administered by the Australian Electoral Commission.

    The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters "Inquiry into the Commonwealth Amendment (Real time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2019 examined the issue of real time disclosure of political party donations. The intent of the Bill was that every recipient of a donation at the federal level should be required to declare that donation in real time or at least within five days.The Committee Report tabled December 2019 recommended that the Bill not be passed. However, it noted that " Further examination of these issues is expected to occur in November 2020 when the Committee undertakes a review of the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018".

    Source: Advisory Report on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real Time Disclosure of Political Donations Bill 2019. https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Electoral_Matters/ElectoralAmendmentBill/Report

  • Source

    Political parties registered with the Australian Electoral Commission are required under  Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to lodge an annual Political Party Disclosure Return which must reach the Commission no later than 16 weeks after the end of the financial year.

    Source: Australian Electoral Commission, Disclosure Guide for Political Parties 2018-19 financial year https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/financial_disclosure/guides/political-parties/files/political-parties-2018-19.pdf

48. Do political parties have to report on their election campaign finances?
  • CodeYes
  • Comment

    Political Party finances in relation to election campaigns are included in the Party annual financial reports lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission

  • Source

     

    Political Party finances in relation to election campaigns are included in the Party annual financial reports lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission

    Source: Australian Electoral Commision, Financial Disclosure Overview. https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/financial_disclosure/Overview.htm

49. Do candidates have to report on their election campaign finances?
50. Do third parties have to report on election campaign finances?
51. Is information in reports from political parties and/or candidates to be made public?
  • CodeYes
  • Comment

    The Australian Electoral Commission Transparency Register contains information about political parties, associated entities, political campaigners, third parties, donors, candidates and Senate groups registered with or recognised by the Australian Electoral Commission. The Transparency Register includes annual returns, election returns and election funding claims.

    Source: The Transparency Register https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/financial_disclosure/transparency-register/

  • Source

    The Australian Electoral Commission is required to publish annual returns by political parties, political campaigners, associated entities, third parties and donors before the end of the first business day in February each year after the return is provided.

    All political party, associated entity and donor returns from financial year 1998-1999 onwards and third party returns from financial year 2006-2007 onwards are available on the Transparency Register.

    The Australian Electoral Commission is required to publish federal election returns by candidates before the end of 24 weeks after polling day. All candidate and Senate group returns from the 1996 federal election onwards  are available on the Transparency Register.

    Sources: Part XX Commonwealth  Electoral Act 1918 (Compilation 68).

    Australian Electoral Commission Financial disclosure overview, https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/financial_disclosure/Overview.htm

     

52. Must reports from political parties and/or candidates reveal the identity of donors?
  • CodeSometimes
  • Comment

    Donors can give multiple donations below the threshold so that disclosure is not required, either by the political party or the donor. This lack of transparency has contributed to the low score of 12 given to Australia by Money Politics and Transparency  for the contributions and expenditure restrictions category. The issue has also been the subject of discussion by academics, think tanks and the media.   

    Sources: Democracy before Dollars: The problems with money in Australian Politics and how to fix them Prof Joo-Cheong Tham. Australian Quarterly April - June 2019.

    How Big Money influenced the 2019 federal election - and what we can do to fix the system, Grattan Institute,The Conversation 4.2.2020 

  • Source

    Disclosure of certain information (e.g. details of gifts and donations) is subject to a minimum threshold below which disclosure is not required.

    The Australian Electoral Commission financial disclosure scheme was amended with effect from 8 December 2005 to increase the threshold to 'more than $10 000'. This amount is indexed with effect from 1 July each year based on increases in the consumer price index.

    The disclosure threshold amount that will apply from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 is more than $14,000

    Source:  https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/public_funding/threshold.htm

53. Must reports from political parties and/or candidates include information on itemized income?
54. Must reports from political parties and/or candidates include information on itemized spending?
55. Which institution(s) receives financial reports from political parties and/or candidates?
  • CodeEMB
  • Comment
  • Source

    The Australain Electoral Commission receives annual financial disclosure returns from poltical parties and financial disclosure returns from candidates following elections.  

    Source: Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, 1918

56. Which institution(s) is responsible for examining financial reports and/or investigating violations?
  • CodeYes, EMB
  • Comment
  • Source
    • The AEC has been given authority to undertake investigations concerning compliance with the disclosure obligations contained in Part XX of the Electoral Act.  Section 316(2A) of the Electoral Act provides an authorised officer with the authority to find out whether a prescribed person, the agent of a political party, or the financial controller of an associated entity has complied with their obligations under Part XX of the Electoral Act.

    • Source

      Australian Electoral Commission, 'Financial Disclosure Compliance Framework' July 2017, p. 6

57. What power is granted to the institution(s) responsible for examining reports and/or investigating violations?
  • CodeRefer for investigation | Carry out investigation
  • Comment
  • Source
    • Source
      • The Australian Electoral Commission can undertake compliance reviews of a sample of returns, conduct investigations of contraventions of returns and conduct investigations of entities to determine if they have disclosure obligations.  They can refer those who have not met obligations for prosecution.

      • Source

        Australian Electoral Commission, 'Financial Disclosure Compliance Framework' July 2017

        https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/compliance/

58. What sanctions are provided for political finance infractions?
  • CodeFines | Prison
  • Comment
  • Source
    • Sections 315 and 316 of the Electoral Act set out the offences and the relevant penalties that relate to Part XX of the Electoral Act.  Fines are incurred for serious violations, while providing false or misleading information can incure a prison sentence of 6 months.

    • Source:Australian Electoral Commission, 'Financial Disclosure Compliance Framework' July 2017, pp.14, 16.

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