A person who is a candidate for election to an office of a council must lodge the following returns with the Electoral Commissioner:

Campaign donations return

Candidates (for all councils including the City of Adelaide) must lodge a campaign donations return with the Electoral Commissioner.

Candidates must lodge 2 returns:

For a periodic election:

  • the first campaign donation return must be lodged with the returning officer in the period between 22 to 28 days after the close of nominations
  • the second campaign donation return must be lodged within 30 days after the conclusion of the election.

For any other type of election (supplementary, etc.):

  • the first campaign donation return must be lodged with the returning officer in the period between 8 to 14 days after the close of nominations
  • the second campaign donation return must be lodged within 30 days after the conclusion of the election.

The return must disclose:

  • the total amount or value of all gifts received during the disclosure period
  • the number of people who made those gifts
  • the amount or value of each gift
  • the date on which each gift was made
  • details of persons and organisations (donors) providing those gifts.

The campaign donations return need not set out any details in respect of:

  • a private gift made to the candidate
  • a gift with an amount or value less than $500
  • a gift already disclosed in a large gift return

If a candidate is not required to provide any details in a return, the campaign donations return must still be lodged and include a statement to the effect that no gifts of a kind required to be disclosed were received.

Large gifts return

All candidates (for all councils including the City of Adelaide) must lodge a large gifts return if they receive a gift or gifts from a donor in excess of $2,500.

The Acts prescribe different times that the large gifts return must be lodged, but during the election year, a large gift return must be lodged within 5 days of receipt of the large gift.

The return must disclose:

  • the amount or value of each gift received
  • details of persons and organisations (donors) providing those gifts
  • the date on which each gift was made.

Two or more gifts (excluding private gifts) made by the same person to a candidate during the disclosure period are to be treated as one gift.

A large gifts return need not set out any details in respect of a private gift made to the candidate. A gift to a candidate is a private gift if it is made in a private capacity to the candidate for their personal use and the candidate has not used, and will not use, the gift solely or substantially for a purpose related to the election.

Large gifts returns should be lodged with ECSA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Campaign expenditure return

Candidates for the City of Adelaide elections must lodge a campaign expenditure return, in addition to any campaign donation return or large gift return.

A campaign expenditure return must be lodged within 30 days of the conclusion of the election and set out all details of campaign expenditure in relation to the election incurred by or with the authority of the candidate.

If a candidate does not incur more than $500 in campaign expenditure, they may lodge a ‘NIL’ return.

The types of expenditure defined as campaign expenditure are set out in section 25(2) of the City of Adelaide Act 1998 and they include items such as:

  • the broadcasting of an electoral advertisement
  • production and display of an electoral advertisement
  • production of material requiring the author or printer of the material to be displayed in accordance with section 27 LGEA 1999
  • consulting and advertising agency fees
  • production and distribution of electoral material.

Offences

See section 85 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 and section 29 of the City of Adelaide Act 1998. It is an offence to fail to lodge a return within time, to lodge a return containing false or misleading information, or to supply information that is false or misleading to another person for a return. The maximum penalty is $10,000.

Records

See section 89 of the Local Government (Elections) Act 1999 and section 33 of the City of Adelaide Act 1988. A person must take reasonable steps to retain all records relevant to a return and keep these for at least four years after the date of which the relevant return is required to be lodged. The maximum penalty is $5,000.

Public inspection of returns

The Electoral Commissioner is required to publish all returns within prescribed times on a website maintained by the returning officer.