This guide summarises the often complex funding and disclosure laws in each Australian state and territory for the purpose of comparison. These are the laws that regulate who can make and receive political donations, how and when those donations must be disclosed, how much money political parties can spend for their election campaigns, and the amount of public money they receive to fund their election campaigns and general operations.
This document does not attempt to capture every nuance of each system, and is not a substitute for legal advice. The laws occasionally change, and it only reflects the laws at the time of publication. Only laws covering state/territory and federal elections are considered—local government elections are often covered by specific laws which may differ from state election requirements.
While most relevant legislation refers to donations to political parties as ‘gifts’, the terms ‘donation’ and ‘gift’ are used interchangeably in this document reflecting their popular use. Gifts can take the form of money, but may also include the provision of goods or services for free such as providing rent-free accommodation. Volunteer labour is usually not considered to be a gift or regulated under these laws.
The analysis separates out donations and electoral expenditure, and public funding. Appendix A provides details of the regulatory settings and thresholds for each jurisdiction, and Appendix B provides a short summary of the main features of the law in each jurisdiction and a link to the relevant legislation.