Australian Electoral Commission

Tests applied to applications for party registration

Updated: 22 April 2013

When the AEC considers an application for registration of a new political party, it applies the following tests. Each test is based on the legal provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act) or AEC policy.

List of tests

The Funding and Disclosure Section (FAD) undertakes the following tests:

  • whether the applicant party is an organisation [s4(1)]
  • whether the applicant party is a political party, in that it has an aim of promoting candidates it endorses for election to the House of Representatives and/or Senate [s4(1)]
  • whether the applicant party has a secretary to sign the application [s123(1), s126(1)(b)]
  • whether the application meets all the technical requirements [s126(1)(b), s126(2)]
  • whether a list of a maximum of 550 members is included with the application [AEC policy]
  • whether the party has at least 500 members [s126(2)(ca)]
  • whether the list of members contains people not listed on the Electoral Roll, duplicate persons, the names of persons who are ineligible for enrolment, or the names of persons who have been used to support other applications for registration [s123(3), s126(2A)]
  • whether the membership list meets testing to establish the party has at least 500 members as defined in s123 [s123(1)(a)(ii) and AEC policy];
  • whether the application is in writing, is signed by the applicant or applicants, is signed by the person who is to be registered officer of the party and is accompanied by a fee of $500 [s126(2)]
  • whether the applicant party has provided a constitution that establishes the organisation and sets out the party's aims [s123(1)(b), s126(2)(f)];
  • whether the constitution provides for memberships [AEC policy], and
  • whether the applicant party's name fails the prohibited names test [s129].

Membership testing

When testing the party's membership list, the AEC tests whether there is evidence that the members are listed on the Electoral Roll, whether there are any duplicate members in the list or duplicates with lists held of members sponsoring other registered political parties and also whether the people on the list will confirm that they are members of the party.

The AEC runs an automatic matching program to compare the list of members with the current and historical electoral roll to see if the members are enrolled or have been enrolled. If less than 500 members are identified, AEC staff will conduct manual checks to try to identify members who are enrolled with slight differences, such as truncated given names. The list of members with an enrolment history is checked to delete duplicate entries and then checked for members who already support the registration of another party.

The final step in member testing is when AEC staff contact a random sample of members to ensure that those members will confirm that they are members of the party applying for registration. The random sample is drawn from the membership list in accordance with advice from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Secretary

The Electoral Act requires the application form to be signed by the 'secretary' of the party and defines the 'secretary' to be the person who holds the office (whether described as secretary, director, convenor, or otherwise) which is responsible for the administration and the correspondence of the party. This means the person who makes the day to day decisions about managing the party and signs the more important correspondence. The 'secretary' in many parties carries out their duties in accordance with the decisions of a management committee or executive committee.

Where a party's constitution does not identify a position in the party with these responsibilities, the AEC will ask the party to amend its constitution to include such a position.

Prohibited names

Section 129 of the Electoral Act prohibits the registration of a party by reason of its name in certain circumstances.

For further information on restrictions on party names please refer to the Party Registration Guide.

Action following tests

Where there are shortcomings with an application which may be recoverable, the AEC may issue a notice under s131 of the Electoral Act, outlining the problems and offering the applicants an opportunity to vary their application. Where there are no obvious problems, the AEC will advertise the application under s132(1) giving one month for any person or organisation to lodge a submission objecting to the registration of the party.

If no submissions are lodged, or do not address relevant matters set out in the legislative provisions, the AEC could be expected to register the party shortly after the one month period. If substantive submissions are lodged, the AEC will forward them to the applicant party for it to comment on them before a delegate of the AEC makes a decision to register the party or refuse the application.

For further explanation of the tests applied or of the registration process, please refer to the Party Registration Guide.