The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent on 30 November 2018, introduced changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act) which came into effect on 1 January 2019 relating to the mechanism for payment of public election funding.
A candidate or Senate group is eligible for election funding if they obtain at least 4% of the formal first preference vote in the division or the state or territory they contested. The maximum amount that can be paid is calculated by multiplying the number of votes obtained by the current election funding rate. This rate is indexed every six months to increases in the Consumer Price Index.
As soon as practicable 20 days after polling day, the AEC will pay all eligible candidates and Senate groups an amount of $10,000. This amount is indexed every six months on 1 January and 1 July to increases in the Consumer Price Index.
For entitlements greater than this amount, eligible candidates and Senate groups will need to submit a claim setting out their electoral expenditure. Funding will only be paid if the AEC is satisfied that the claimed electoral expenditure is accurate and unique.
Registered political parties, candidates and Senate groups will be entitled to receive the lesser of:
Claims can be submitted to the AEC from 20 days after polling day up to six months following polling day. Claims must be made by the agent of the party, candidate or Senate group. Agents may make an interim claim, both an interim claim and a final claim, or a final claim.
The AEC is in the process of developing the mechanism for submitting claims and further information will be provided by the AEC in due course. While a determination has not yet been made on the extent to which invoices or other documents will be required to be submitted to the AEC with a claim, the Electoral Act requires political parties and candidates to retain all records associated with a claim for election funding for a period of five years after polling day.
The Electoral Commission must make a decision whether to accept or refuse the claim, in whole or in part, within 20 days of receiving a claim. To the extent that the claim is accepted, the AEC will pay the amount required within the 20 days.
Appeal mechanisms exist for instances where a claim is refused in whole or in part.