Significant third party and associated entity registration

Updated: 12 April 2022

You may be required to register with the AEC if you incur significant expenditure in seeking to influence voters in an election, or if you have some kind of connection with a registered political party (such as being controlled by or operating for the benefit of a registered political party).

Legislative changes impacting significant third parties and associated entities

On 13 December 2021, the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Political Campaigners) Act 2021 received Royal Assent. Some changes resulting from the Political Campaigners Act may require action by 14 March 2022. Detailed information is available on the Financial disclosure legislative changes page.

Significant third party registration

Persons or entities are required to register as a significant third party when:

  • electoral expenditure exceeds $250,000 during that financial year, or any one of the previous three financial years; or
  • electoral expenditure is at least equal to the disclosure threshold during that financial year and electoral expenditure during the previous financial year was at least one‑third of the revenue of the person or entity for that year; or
  • during that financial year the person or entity operates for the dominant purpose of fundraising amounts:
    1. the aggregate of which is at least equal to the disclosure threshold; and
    2. that are for the purpose of incurring electoral expenditure or that are to be gifted to another person or entity for the purpose of incurring electoral expenditure.

Electoral expenditure refers to expenditure incurred for the dominant purpose of creating or communicating electoral matter. Further details on electoral expenditure can be found at the Electoral Expenditure and Electoral Matter fact sheet.

If you are currently registered as a political campaigner on the Transparency Register, you will not be required to re-register as a significant third party. You will be automatically categorised as a significant third party on the Transparency Register.

If you are not currently registered as a political campaigner and if you meet the requirements for registering as a significant third party you are required to register as a significant third party within 90 days of becoming required to register.

As the Political Campaigners Act commenced on 14 December 2021, registration as a significant third party, for those that meet the requirements, is required by 14 March 2022.

Appointing a financial controller - significant third party

A significant third party must appoint a financial controller at the time of registration, using the Application to register as a significant third party form.

The financial controller is responsible for lodging the annual return.

The significant third party and financial controller’s names will be included in the Transparency Register.

Associated entity registration

Persons or entities are required to register as an associated entity when:

  • the entity is controlled by one or more registered political parties; or
  • the entity operates wholly or to a significant extent for the benefit of one or more registered political parties; or
  • the entity is a financial member of a registered political party; or
  • another person is a financial member of a registered political party on behalf of the entity; or
  • the entity has voting rights in a registered political party; or
  • another person has voting rights in a registered political party on behalf of the entity; or
  • the entity operates wholly, or to a significant extent, for the benefit of one or more disclosure entities, and the benefit relates to one or more electoral activities (whether or not the electoral activities are undertaken during an election period).

Examples of associated entities include '500 clubs', 'think tanks', registered clubs, service companies, trade unions and corporate party members.

If you are not currently registered as an associated entity and if you meet the requirements for registering as an associated entity you are required to register as an associated entity within 90 days of becoming required to register.

As the Political Campaigners Act commenced on 14 December 2021, registration as an associated entity, for those that meet the requirement, is required by 14 March 2022.

Appointing a financial controller - associated entity

An associated entity must appoint a financial controller at the time of registration, using the Application to register as an Associated Entity form.

The financial controller is responsible for lodging the annual return.

The associated entity and financial controller’s names will be included in the Transparency Register, as well as the names of associated registered political parties.

Updating registration details

Significant third parties and associated entities are required to update registration details via the Change to Transparency Register form within 90 days of the change occurring. Details listed on the Transparency Register are otherwise accepted as correct until proven otherwise.

If you need assistance please email fad@aec.gov.au, or alternatively call the Funding and Disclosure help desk on (02) 6271 4552.

Deregistration

A person or entity that is registered as a significant third party or an associated entity may apply to the Electoral Commissioner to be deregistered under s 287M of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

An application to deregister should only be made by a significant third party or associated entity that is no longer required to be registered.

An application to deregister can be made via the approved form:

If you need assistance please email fad@aec.gov.au or phone Funding and Disclosure on (02) 6271 4552.

Penalties

Not registering as a significant third party will incur a civil penalty whichever is the higher of the following amounts:

  • 200 penalty units;
  • If there is sufficient evidence for the court to determine the amount, or an estimate of the amount, of electoral expenditure incurred in contravention of this subsection – 3 times that amount.

Not registering an associated entity will incur a civil penalty whichever is the higher of the following amounts:

  • 200 penalty units;
  • If there is sufficient evidence for the court to determine the amount, or an estimate of the amount, of electoral expenditure incurred in contravention of this subsection – 3 times that amount.

Further information