Third Party Campaigning
The NSW Electoral Funding Act 2018 sets out the requirements for Third Party Campaigners that incur more than $2,000 in electoral expenditure during the capped expenditure period which commenced on 1 October 2018 and will finish on 20 March 2019.
It is a requirement of the Act that each third party campaigner have an Official Agent who is legally accountable for managing and disclosing political donations as well as electoral expenditure.
The NSW government passed the Electoral Funding Act 2018 which replaced the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosure Act 1981.
The new electoral funding provisions apply to fundraising activity on or after 1 July 2018.
Roles and Responsibilities for Official Agents
The Official Agent has specific responsibilities:
- Accepting political donations into the designated campaign account;
- Making payments of electoral expenditure;
- Maintaining complete records;
- Issuing receipts in NSW Electoral Commission forms; and
- Maintaining copies of all advertising and print material.
Changes to Capping of Electoral Expenditure for Third Party Campaigners
The new Act also decreases the cap on electoral expenditure for a third-party campaigner for a State general election to:
- (i) $500,000 if the third-party campaigner was registered before the commencement of the capped State expenditure period for the election or
- (ii) $250,000 in any other case
The NTIA was registered prior to 1 October and as such is subject to the higher cap of $500,000.
Pre-election disclosures of political donations commence from
1 October in the year before the state election within 21 days of receipt.
In order to manage these reporting requirements electoral donations should be reported every 14 days, including disclosable donations over $1,000.
It is likely that given the nature of the night time economy that a large number of potential donors and members will fall within the definition of “prohibited donors”
Donations from property developers or tobacco, liquor or gambling industries are prohibited donations under the Act.
The Act has also expanded the definition of “close associate” of prohibited donors.
The current cap on political donations is $2,800 per annum for third party campaigners.
The maximum subscription in respect to members of a political party is $2,000, this limit does not apply third party campaigners, but limits what funds can be utilised by the campaign.
The Official Agent is required to maintain a separate campaign account for political donations and campaign expenditure which cannot be mixed with either prohibited donations or membership or subscription fees.
Penalties for breach
The new act has increased the penalties for breaches of the Act which range from $22,000 – $44,000 and or 2 years in jail depending on the offence.