Section 314AB of the Act governs the lodgement of annual disclosures by political parties.
The agent of each political party must within 16 weeks after the end of each financial year furnish to the AEC a return in the approved form.
The Political Party Disclosure Return (the return) requires disclosure of the following information covering the financial year from 1 July to 30 June:
The disclosure threshold for the 2016–17 financial year is for amounts of more than $13 200. This figure is indexed annually.
A State branch that is registered under section 130 of the Electoral Act must lodge annual financial disclosure returns covering the operation of the party in their State or Territory. The party agent of the State branch is responsible for lodging the annual financial disclosure return for the registered State branch of the party.
Where a registered political party has State and Territory branches that are not separately registered or recognised, the party agent of the registered political party at the national level must lodge annual financial disclosure returns covering the operation of all those State and Territory branches together with the national level operations.
Where a registered political party has State or Territory branches which are separately recognised by the AEC, a State or Territory branch so recognised must lodge a separate annual financial disclosure return covering the operation of the party in their State or Territory.
Associated entities of registered political parties must lodge similar annual financial disclosure returns.
An associated entity of a registered political party is:
The AEC releases a series of publications designed to assist political parties, candidates, donors and other persons that may have financial disclosure obligations under the Act. These publications include:
Annual returns are made available for public inspection on the first working day of February each year.
Returns can be seen at:
Political parties must give consideration to the financial recording systems and procedures that are appropriate to their needs and circumstances.
Financial recording systems and procedures must be sufficient to enable the return, which will be publicly available, to be properly completed.
All transactions should be supported by source documents recording the details of individual transactions.
Examples of source documents are:
Source documents contain information required to complete the return, such as the:
A cash book may be used to record all receipts and payments, whether by cash, cheque, credit card, direct debit, direct credit, EFTPOS or other payment or receipt method. An example of another payment or receipt method is where the party has received a gift-in-kind.
While all amounts received and paid can be recorded in a cash book, the cash book may be incomplete. Therefore the cash book should be reconciled to external bank statements to ensure transactions that have been made directly to all the party's bank accounts are included. A cash book can assist with completing the return.
All relevant records, whether formal or informal, should be retained for a minimum of three years. Receipt books, bank records, receipt registers, source documents and working papers documenting how figures disclosed in the return were derived must be kept for this period.