The rules surrounding campaign finances protect the integrity of the election process, but they are complex.
It’s important you review and understand these rules so you are able to comply with recording and disclosure requirements.
There are two kinds of financial donations:
- Small donations – either one-off donations, or aggregated donations from a single donor – of less than $1,000. The total value and total number of these donations received must be disclosed to NSWEC.
- Reportable donations – those of more than $1,000, whether single or in aggregate. Reportable donations by anonymous donors are not allowed – if you receive a reportable donation you will need the name and address of the donor, who must be given a receipt. Receipt books for this purpose can be obtained through the NSWEC Candidate Call Centre on 1300 088 942.
It is illegal to accept donations from a corporation that is a property developer, liquor, gambling or tobacco entity, or a close associate of such a body. A fact sheet on banned donors is available at www.elections.nsw.gov.au/fd. It’s also illegal for an independent to accept donations from a registered political party.
But political donations are not just money. They may include in-kind gifts such as sporting memorabilia, the provision of a free or discounted service, an amount paid to attend a fundraising function (including raffle tickets).
You cannot accept indirect campaign contributions – free or discounted office accommodation, vehicles, computers or other equipment solely used for the election campaign, payment for advertising – worth more than $1,000.
Political donations are subject to caps, meaning there is a maximum donation that any donor may contribute to the same recipient in a financial year. You can obtain more information on this at www.elections.nsw.gov.au/fd.
The campaign account
You must have a campaign account to be able to accept more than $1,000 in political donations, or incur more than $1,000 in electoral expenditure during the election period. This account needs to be a separate account with a bank, credit union or building society, and should be operated by your Official Agent. Bank statements for the campaign account must be kept for three years and may be required for a compliance audit by the NSWEC.
The official agent is responsible for disclosure on behalf of the candidate. For further details check the Candidates Handbook.