Election campaign donation return
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An election campaign donation return is a record of significant gifts received by election candidates for use in their election campaigns. These returns ensure public transparency about the level of finanical and in-kind support given to candidates by individuals and organisations during elections.
Who needs to lodge a return?
All candidates for the Council elections are required to complete an Election Donation Return. A return must be lodged by a candidate even if he or she has not received any campaign donations.
When and where must a return be lodged?
Campaign donation returns must be given to the Chief Executive Officer of the Council for which the person was candidate within 40 days after the election day.
What gifts must be disclosed?
Campaign donation returns must record all relevant gifts that were received by the candidate from 30 days after the pervious election for the relevant Ward or District until 30 days after the current election. (This is referred to as the 'donation period').
All campaign donations received during the donation period, either by the candidate or by someone acting on behalf of the candidate, must be disclosed if they are valued at $500 or more. This includes gifts of goods or services as well as cash donations.
Disclosable gifts include, but are not limited to:
- Cash donations in any form;
- A payment or contribution at a fundraising function;
- Rent free or discounted use of commercial premises;
- Free or discounted media advertising;
- Free or discounted printing;
- Free or discounted services, such as catering, design work or legal advice;
- Free use of a motor vehicle or other equipment;
- Employer approved and paid time off work that is taken by a candidate to campaign (but not if the candidate takes leave); and
- Work undertaken for a candidate by a person during normal working hours where the person's employer continues to pay their salary or wages (but not if the person takes leave to work for the candidate as a volunteer).
Multiple gifts from one source
It two or more gifts are made to a candidate from the same person or organisation they must be treated as a single donation when determining their value. This means that they must be disclosed in the candidate's return if their combined value is $500 or more.
Items that do not need to be disclosed
Items that do not need to be disclosed in a campaign donation return, include:
- Media interviews;
- Volunteer labour, such as people handing out how-to-vote cards or delivering leaflets;
- Gifts made in a private capacity to the candidate that are not sued in relation to the election; and
- The candidate's own funds that are used for their election campaign.
What information about gifts must be disclosed?
A campaign donation return must include the full name and address of each person who made a disclosable gift.
- If a gift is in the form of money, the exact value of the gift must be stated and the form in which the gift was given
- If the gift was in the form of goods or services, the gift must be described and the estimated market value of the gift stated.
Gifts from organisations
Campaign donations received from corporations or other incorporated bodies must be disclosed in the same way as gifts from people. This includes donations from political parties. A candidate who received a gift from a corporation or other incorporated body must disclose the name of the corporation or body in their return.
What if no gifts have been received?
If a candidate has not received any gifts that need to be disclosed, the candidate must still lodge a campaign donation return. The candidate should record on the form that they did not receive any gifts of a kind that are required to be disclosed.
It is illegal for a candidate, or a person acting on behalf of a candidate, to accept a gift valued at $500 or more unless the name and address of the gift giver are known or unless the name and address of the gift giver are obtained at the time the gift is received. If a candidate accepts an anonymous gift, an amount equal to twice the value of the gift will be forfeited to the Crown.
A candidate who fails to lodge an election campaign donation return by the due date or who knowingly gives false or misleading information in his or her return is liable to be charged with an offence and prosecuted in a Court.
A person who knowingly provides a candidate with false or misleading information about a campaign donation is also liable to be charged with an offence and prosecuted in a Court.
The prescribed penalty for any of these offences in in excess of $8,000.
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