Political parties, associated entities, individual candidates, groups and other persons may be required to submit a return to the Electoral Commissioner regarding the disclosure of gifts and expenditure and claims for public funding.
The Commission has produced Guidelines to Funding and Disclosure in Western Australia (PDF 386 KB) which outline the essential legislative requirements of the Electoral Act 1907 and provide guidance on disclosure of gifts and expenditure and claims for public funding.
All political parties must appoint an agent. Individual candidates, non-party groups and other persons may appoint an agent or accept responsibility for compliance with the Act.
Acceptance of donations from unidentified persons or sources equal to or more than $2 500 is prohibited under the Act. Gifts of $2 500 or more must be detailed.
All political parties and associated entities are required to lodge a return annually by November 30, disclosing all gifts and other income received for the previous financial year.
Political parties are required to disclose expenditure incurred in an election.
Candidates and groups are required to disclose all gifts received and expenditure incurred during the disclosure period for the election. This ends 30 days after polling day, and for previous candidates, commences 30 days after polling day in the previous election, or for new candidates from one year prior to the day of nomination in the present election. For groups, it commences from the hour of nomination.
Persons other than political parties, associated entities, candidates and groups who incur expenditure for political purposes are required to disclose all gifts received and expenditure incurred during the disclosure period for the election. This is the same period as for previous candidates described above. If the total amount of expenditure does not exceed $500, a return is not required.
Election returns must be sent to the Electoral Commissioner within 15 weeks after polling day. A penalty is prescribed for non-compliance.
Any candidates at a State election or by-election can apply to be reimbursed for electoral expenditure incurred, provided that they receive more than 4% of first preference votes. First preference votes do not include any informal votes. Payments for all candidates endorsed by a registered political party can be made if candidates collectively poll over 4% of the total number of eligible votes at the combined elections in each contested electorate. Candidates included in a Legislative Council group can receive payment if the group as a whole polls over 4%.
Amount to be reimbursed
For each eligible candidate, the election funding reimbursement amount, calculated under s.175LC(2) of the Electoral Act 1907, is to be paid to that candidate for each valid first preference vote received in an election. This amount is $1.96699 as at 1 July 2020, and is adjusted annually, in line with CPI.
If actual eligible electoral expenditure incurred by that candidate or group is less than the amount that would be paid using the above calculation, then this lesser amount is the amount to be reimbursed.
Eligible electoral expenditure
Electoral expenditure in relation to an election is defined by s.175 of the Electoral Act 1907 and is incurred by advertising during the election period, or by producing advertisements for the purposes of advertising during the election period.
Expenditure that falls into one of the following categories can be claimed for reimbursement:
- broadcasting an election-related advertisement, for example, a television or radio advertisement
- publishing an advertisement in a journal (including newspapers or magazines)
- displaying an election-related advertisement at a place of entertainment, for example, the cinema
- the production of any advertisement which is broadcast, published or displayed as above (even if the production of that advertisement occurs outside the election period)
- producing any material, other than above, which requires authorisation and which is used for advertising during the election period (even if the production of that material occurs outside the election period)
- producing and distributing electoral matter addressed to particular persons or organisations, for example, mail-outs or letterbox drops to households
- consultant’s or advertising agent’s fees for services provided during the election period, or the production of material for use during the election period
- carrying out an opinion poll or other research during the election period which is related to the election.
Lodgement of claims and payment
To lodge a claim for payment, a completed application must be submitted to the Commission within 20 weeks of polling day. The form must be lodged by the:
- agent of the registered political party endorsing the candidate, including Legislative Council groups
- agent of the candidate
- agent of the Legislative Council group, where the group is not endorsed by a registered political party or
- the candidate themselves, where the candidate is not endorsed by a registered political party and no agent has been appointed.
Claims for more than one candidate from the same party for the same polling day must be lodged as one claim.
Payment is made to the political party for endorsed candidates and endorsed candidates included in Legislative Council groups. Unendorsed candidates' payments are made to their agent or to themselves if no agent is appointed. For Legislative Council groups not endorsed by a registered political party, payment is made to the agent of the group.
Claims for payment are additional to election-related disclosure returns lodged by candidates, parties and groups under sections 175SA, 175SB and 175SC of the Electoral Act 1907 which are due within 15 weeks after polling day.
Payments made for a false claim, or made in error, can be recovered by the State through court proceedings (see s.175LH(4) and s.175LI of the Electoral Act 1907).
Penalties for the lodging of false or misleading claims or information for the purposes of a public funding claim apply as follows:
- party agent, $15 000
- person not being an agent of a political party, $7 500
- person supplying false information to another person who must lodge a return for the purposes of electoral funding, $1 500.