This information is for third parties and associated entities.

For more information, refer to Part 13A of the Electoral Act 1985.

What is political expenditure?

Political expenditure is defined in section 130A and regulation 18A of the Electoral Regulations 2009. Political expenditure includes the public expression of views on a political party, a Member of Parliament, a candidate, or an issue in an election.

For more information, refer to our Political Expenditure Guide on our Guides page.

What must be reported

Political expenditure during capped expenditure period

If a third party incurs more than $5,000 (indexed) of political expenditure during the capped expenditure period, they must lodge a capped expenditure period return. This return must be lodged within 60 days after polling day (section 130ZQ).

A third party must disclose in the return whether any political expenditure was incurred under an arrangement with a person or body who has lodged a 130Y certificate.

Associated entities are not required to lodge capped expenditure period returns.

Annual political expenditure

If an associated entity or third party incurs, by their own authority, political expenditure over the legislated threshold during a financial year, they must lodge an annual political expenditure return.

The thresholds are:

  • For an associated entity – more than $5,000 (indexed).
  • For a third party – more than $10,000 (indexed).

The annual political expenditure return must be lodged within 12 weeks after the end of the financial year (section 130ZR).

Audit certificates

You are required to provide an audit certificate for every return lodged with the Electoral Commissioner (section 130ZV).

You may apply for a waiver of the requirement to provide an audit certificate if the costs of compliance would be unreasonable.


Failing to lodge a return within the legislated timeframe is an offence for which the maximum penalty is $5,000.

Lodging a return which a person knows is false or misleading in a material particular is an offence for which the maximum penalty is $10,000.

For more information, refer to section 130ZZE.