NSW Election Funding and Disclosures Amendment Bill 2010

16th November 2010


Last week the NSW Parliament passed the Election Funding and Disclosures Amendment Bill 2010. The Bill gained assent yesterday.

This is the first legislation in any Australian parliament to cap political donations and electoral expenditure. The Act commences on 1 January 2011.

It is the outcome of a joint standing committee established by the Government in March of this year to ‘inquire into a public funding model for political parties and candidates to apply at the State and local Government levels’.

The Bill is available here. 

For donors, the new laws mean:

o   Note - elected members and candidates endorsed by the same party or group will be considered a single entity for the purposes of the donation cap.

Reporting donations  

Under the act, a reportable political donation is political donation of or exceeding $1,000 made to or for the benefit of a party, elected member, group, candidate or third-party campaigner.

Individuals who donate $1,000 or more are defined major political donors.

This $1,000 reporting figure is unchanged from the current regime, although the reporting period is now every 12 months as opposed to the previous system of every 6 months.

Compliance and enforcement

For political and third party expenditure, the laws mean: 

Public funding

A new public funding model will reimburse parties, groups and candidates for actual expenditure on a progressive basis up to their maximum entitlement.

Public funding has been increased as caps on donations may naturally limit the resources parties, groups and candidates may have to contest elections and engage in debate on political matters.

An administration fund will be established to enable parties with endorsed elected members to fund administration costs.

Payments from the Administration Fund will be calculated at $80,000 per member of the Legislative Assembly and member of the Legislative Council up to a maximum of $2 million.

The bill also establishes the Policy Development Fund. This is implemented in response to concerns that capping donations may have an adverse impact on the development of new parties.

A party would be eligible for policy development funding only if it was not eligible for administration funding.

The bill provides that a new party would be eligible for policy development funding of at least $5,000 for the first eight years. To maintain transparency disclosure requirements will be maintained. The current disclosure threshold of $1,000 is retained. 



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