The Donor to Political Party Disclosure Return forms for individuals and for organisations are generally the same. The main difference between the two return forms is that the Donor to Political Party Disclosure Return–Organisations contains an additional section (discussed immediately below).
In Part 1a of the Donor to Political Party Disclosure Return–Organisations, the organisation is asked to list alternative names under which it conducts business.
Section 287(6) of the Act provides that a body corporate and any other body corporate that is related to the first-mentioned body corporate shall be deemed to be the same person. It further states that whether a body corporate is related to another body corporate shall be determined in the same manner as the question whether a corporation is related to another corporation under the Corporations Act 2001. The parent company of the group, therefore, should lodge under its name a return consolidated across the entire group and list in this part of the return the names of all related bodies corporate.
Section 305B(3) of the Act requires that where a person makes donations totalling more than $13 000 to the same political party during the 2015–2016 financial year, each donation made must be disclosed.
Where an individual makes donations to a political party, the disclosure threshold applies to the total of all donations made. That is, where the total of all donations made to a political party exceeds the disclosure threshold, all donations made to that political party, regardless of their value, must be disclosed in the 'donations made' part of the return.
For example – keeping in mind the disclosure threshold is for donations totalling more than $13 000:
Where an individual or organisation is required to disclose 'donations made' in the return, the following details must be disclosed:
The issue of whether a payment to attend a function constitutes a donation requiring disclosure under the disclosure scheme is not always clear.
As a guideline:
Section 305B(2) requires that a person who makes a donation to any person or body with the intention of benefiting a particular political party, the person is taken to have made that donation directly to the political party and the donation must be disclosed.
Examples of 'indirect' donations to a political party include, but are not limited to, the following:
Items that do not need to be disclosed as donations:
While donations of advertising must be disclosed, interviews granted in the normal course of political activity do not need to be disclosed.
Material presented on an 'advertorial' basis (that is a combination of paid advertising and interviews) should be disclosed consistent with the promotional intention of the activity.
Donations made to two or more political parties are to be listed on the one return.
The following examples may assist in clarifying some common issues where multiple donations are concerned:
Political parties may have more than one registration, for example, the major parties – Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party of Australia, National Party of Australia, Australian Greens – have multiple parties registered with the AEC. These parties are considered branches and each registered branch has a separate disclosure obligation. Therefore it is important that when a donor discloses a donation, the correct branch of the party is identified.
The following examples may assist in clarifying some common issues where a donation has been made to a political party that has several registrations:
Section 305B(3A) of the Act requires that where a person receives donations, which they then use to make donations, totalling more than the disclosure threshold, in a financial year to the same political party, the donations received must be disclosed.
The 'donations received' part of the return applies to a donor:
Cash donations, together with 'gifts-in-kind' received are required to be disclosed.
Where donations were made and were disclosed in Part 1 of the return, but no donations were received, Part 2 of the return should be marked 'nil'.
For donations received that meet the criteria for disclosure required by section 305B(3A) the following details must be disclosed:
In the case of donations received from or on behalf of members of an unincorporated association (other than a registered industrial organisation), the name of the association and the name and address of each member of the executive committee of the association must be disclosed.
In the case of donations received from a trust or foundation, the title and description of the trust or foundation, along with the names and addresses of the trustees must be disclosed.
In any other case, the name and address of the person who made the donation must be disclosed.
Unlike the disclosure of donations made which is limited to the 2015–2016 financial year, donations used to fund those donations must be disclosed even where they were received prior to 1 July 2015.
The following example may assist in clarifying the disclosure requirements when a person or organisation discloses donations made in the 2015–2016 financial year having used donations that were received in prior years to make those donations.
A donor received a donation of $17 000 in the 2013–14 financial year. The same donor received a donation of $15 000 in the 2014–15 financial year.
In the 2015–2016 financial year the donor made a donation of $20 000 to a political party. As the donor has made a donation that is more than the disclosure threshold, the donor is required to disclose the donation in the 'donations made' section of the return.
To make the $20 000 donation the donor used the $17 000 donation received in the 2013–14 financial year and part ($3 000) of the $15 000 donation received in the 2014–15 financial year. As the donor has used donations that were received in previous financial years to make a donation to a political party in the 2015–2016 financial year, the donor is required to disclose each of the donations ($17 000 and $15 000) as 'donations received' for the 2015–2016 financial year in the return.
If in a subsequent financial year to the 2015–2016 financial year, the donor used the remaining part ($12 000) of the $15 000 donation received in the 2014–15 financial year to make a donation that is more than the disclosure threshold, the donor will be required to disclose the $15 000 donation as a donation received in the subsequent financial year's return. In this situation, the donor can include an explanatory note on the return stating that the donation has previously been disclosed to minimise confusion.
1. Appendix 5 lists political parties registered with the AEC and their identification codes.