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Background information

Background information

All candidates in a federal election must lodge a return of donations received and expenditure incurred.

Each of the 1625 candidates at the 2016 federal election were required to lodge returns within 15 weeks of polling day, that is by 17 October 2016.

Nil Returns

Most endorsed candidates lodge a ‘nil’ return as their information is included in the annual return for their party. However, if an endorsed candidate has personal donations or expenditure outside of the party or campaign structure, these must be shown on a candidate return.

There were 1257 nil returns for the 2016 federal election.

Disclosure period

The disclosure period for donations received begins:

  • for candidates who have not previously contested a federal election, from the declaration of their candidature;
  • for candidates who contested a federal election within the previous four years (House of Representatives) or seven years (Senate), from the 31st day after the previous election contested;
  • for candidates appointed to a casual Senate vacancy, from the date of that appointment.

In all cases it ends 30 days after polling day.

The period covered by the expenditure part of the return is from the issue of the writ until polling day.

Donations received

The total amount of donations received and the total number of donors must be disclosed.

Details of all donations totalling more than $13,200 must be provided. Donations and ‘gifts-in-kind’ (e.g. donated advertising) must be disclosed.

Expenditure incurred

Six categories of electoral expenditure must be reported. These cover advertising, campaign material, direct mailing and opinion polling.

Other election expenditure (e.g. travel and administrative costs) is not reported.

Senate group members

Candidates who are members of a Senate group must lodge a candidate disclosure return.  They do not complete the electoral expenditure part of the return as this information is consolidated into the return of the Senate group.


This page last updated 02 November 2017 (Version: 2.3.35.44992)