Part 3: Election expenses, donations and loans

As party secretary, you are responsible for the party’s obligations in respect of election expenses, donations and loans. This section explains how much a party can spend on election advertising, the types of donations a party can receive and the reporting of expenses, donations and loans.

Key messages

Parties can start fundraising and campaigning at any time.
Spending limits only apply to advertising published in the regulated period (23 June to 22 September).
There is no overall limit on how much parties can receive by way of donations.
Party expense returns for the 2017 general election must be filed by 21 February 2018.

Election expenses

Expenditure limit

A registered party’s election expenses during the regulated period for the 2017 general election (23 June to 22 September) must not exceed $1,115,000 (including GST) plus $26,200 (including GST) per electorate contested by the party.

If a registered party does not contest the party vote, its total election expenses cannot exceed $26,200 (including GST) for each electorate candidate nominated by the party.

The candidate election expenses regime does not apply to people who are list candidates only. Any spending by those candidates promoting the party is an election expense of the party and must be authorised by the party secretary.

Party limits are separate from the expense limits applying to electorate candidates.

Election expenses

A party’s election expenses are the costs of advertising in any medium that:

  • may reasonably be regarded as either encouraging voters to vote for the party or discouraging voters from voting for another party, or both (whether or not the name of the party(s) are mentioned)
  • is published, or continues to be published, during the regulated period, and
  • is promoted by the party secretary or any person (including a registered promoter) authorised by the party secretary. [See section 206 of the Electoral Act]

Party election expenses include:

  • the cost incurred in the preparation, design, composition, printing, postage and publication of the advertisement
  • the reasonable market value of any materials used for the advertisement, including materials provided to the party free of charge or below reasonable market value
  • the apportioned costs for advertisements that promote two or more parties, or a party and a candidate. [See section 3E of the Electoral Act]

The costs of food, hall hire, surveys or opinion polls, free labour or replacing materials destroyed through no fault of the party are not election expenses. Nomination and party list deposits are not election expenses.

The cost of any framework that supports a sign (other than a commercial framework) is not an expense.

The costs of broadcasting election programmes paid for out of the broadcasting allocation by the Commission are not election expenses.

Surveys or opinion polls

The exclusion for surveys or opinion polls is not unlimited. If a survey goes beyond merely eliciting voters’ views and can reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote for a constituency candidate or political party then it will not be a survey or public opinion poll for the purposes of the Electoral Act. It will be an election advertisement and the costs associated with the survey are election expenses.

If the survey is a party advertisement undertaken by phone canvassers who provide their labour free of charge, the costs are exempt. Any other costs incurred (for example, line rental and costs of any calls) would be an expense. The costs of paying any canvassing company to undertake the canvassing would be an election expense.

Vehicle signage

The costs of party advertisement signage on campaign cars and other forms of mobile party advertising are election expenses. However, election expenses do not include the running costs of any vehicle used to display an election advertisement if the use of the vehicle for that purpose is not the subject of a contract, arrangement or understanding for payment.

Websites

Election expenses in relation to party advertisements published on a website include the costs that you incur preparing, designing and publishing the advertisement including hosting fees. They do not include the costs of setting up and maintaining the hardware and software infrastructure of the website.

Items distributed for public display

If the party distributes items such as t-shirts, bumper stickers and flags before the start of the regulated period, you should assume that they will continue to be displayed during the regulated period and include the cost of these items as an election expense. [See section 206CA of the Electoral Act]

Care should be exercised with such items because you could be exposing your supporters to the risk of prosecution if they display the items on election day.

Items reused between elections

Expenses cannot be apportioned between elections. If materials such as banners are purchased and then reused in subsequent elections, at each subsequent election the party must account for the reasonable market value of the materials as an election expense.

We suggest that you either use the price that was originally paid for the item, or if this is not known, what the item would cost to purchase now based on two quotes.

Staff time

The cost of labour provided to you free of charge is not an election expense. The cost of paid campaign staff, for example a campaign manager, is also not an election expense unless the staff member is directly involved in the preparation, design, composition, printing, postage or publication of party advertising. An example where paying staff might be an expense is where the staff member is directly involved in preparing copy or artwork.

Election expenses paid before or after the regulated period

Expenses paid for or incurred either before the regulated period (23 June to 22 September) or after election day (23 September) must be included in the return to the extent to which they relate to election advertisements published within the regulated period.

Apportioning election expenses

Where a party advertisement is published before and during the regulated period, the party secretary is responsible for apportioning the election expenses so that only a fair proportion of the expense is attributed to the regulated period.

It will also be necessary for you to apportion election expenses if the total expenses of an election advertisement relate partly to the promotion of the party concerned and partly for:

  • a candidate or candidates, and/or
  • another party or parties.

Apportionment is a factual exercise determined by the circumstances of each case. We are happy to discuss any apportionment questions.

See Appendix C for a summary of how the costs of election advertisements are to be accounted for and an example to illustrate the principles to be applied when apportioning.

Election expenses for advertisements promoted by third party

Expenses cannot be apportioned with third party promoters. If a party secretary authorises someone else to publish an advertisement encouraging people to vote for the party, the entire cost of the advertising will form part of the party’s election expenses. The same costs will also need to be included as part of the third party’s election expenses.

The party secretary will need to obtain further information from the third party about costs incurred. The advertising and expenditure rules that apply to third parties are set out in the booklet Third Party Handbook – General Election 2017.

Paying election expenses

Invoices for election expenses must be sent to the party secretary within 20 working days of the declaration of the election of list candidates (by 10 November if there are no recounts).

The party secretary must pay any bill within 40 working days of the declaration (by 8 December if there are no recounts). It is an offence not to do this. Sections 206F and 206G of the Electoral Act set out the procedure to follow if a bill is disputed.

Keeping records of election expenses

Party secretaries must take all reasonable steps to keep records of all party election expenses. Party secretaries must keep invoices and records for all election expenses of $100 or more for three years after election day.

Return of party expenses

After a general election, the party secretary of every registered party must file a return with the Commission of party election expenses published during the regulated period. [See section 206I of the Electoral Act]

The return must:

  • be made on the Commission's Return of Party Expenses form
  • be accompanied by an auditor’s report
  • be filed within 90 working days of election day (by 21 February 2018).

The return form is available from the Commission.

The form requires you to provide details of all party election expenses incurred, including expenses incurred by any person authorised by the party secretary. The advertising expenses of unregistered promoters and registered promoters that the party secretary has authorised need to be included in the form.

If there are no election expenses to report on, the party secretary must file a nil return and obtain an auditor’s report.

Expense returns are open to public inspection and are published on the Commission’s website.

Broadcasting allocation expenses

A change to the Electoral Act means that there will be a new requirement for the party secretary to file a return of the party's allocation expenses, which will be reported with the party election expenses.

The form requires the party secretary to provide details of the amount of the party's allocation and all  accounts sent by the party to the Commission under section 80B of the Broadcasting Act, including:

  • the name and address of the supplier
  • invoice date or dates
  • production costs
  • television placement costs
  • radio placement costs, and
  • internet placement costs that relate to party advertising, candidate advertising or both.

For parties that do not receive a broadcasting allocation there is no requirement to complete the allocation expenses part of the return.

Auditor’s report

All party election expense returns must be accompanied by an audit report as prescribed in the Electoral Act. We suggest you familiarise yourself with sections 206L and 206LA of the Electoral Act which set out what the audit report should contain.

While engaged by the party, the auditor is assessing and reporting as appropriate on whether the party’s election expenses and associated record keeping have been within the law, and whether the auditor has received all necessary information to form an opinion.

You are reminded that a party auditor cannot be a body corporate or someone closely connected to the running of a party, must be a chartered accountant, and properly appointed and notified to the Commission. [See section 206K of the Electoral Act]

The audit must be of the party’s entire election expenses (not a sample) so that the auditor can form an opinion on the matters which are required to be covered in the audit report.

The Electoral Act gives auditors powers of access to party records and to require information and explanations from the party secretary.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and the Electoral Commission jointly recommend the use of a representation letter in the final stages of the audit process. A template letter is available from the Commission.

The Commission does not accept any of the following as ‘reasonable excuses’ for not providing an audit report on a party’s entire election expenses:

  • cost or time involved in the audit or the servicing of it
  • alleged difficulty arising from the location of the relevant documentation
  • alleged autonomy of organisations within the party.

If a party secretary does not provide all the information required or fails, in the auditor’s opinion, to keep proper records of party election expenses sufficient to earn an unqualified opinion then the auditor may give a qualified opinion, an adverse opinion, or a disclaimer of opinion, in accordance with the applicable auditing and assurance standards issued by the New Zealand Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.

If the audit report does not comply with the requirements of sections 206L and 206LA of the Electoral Act it may be rejected by the Commission and the party secretary would be required to obtain a new one.

Donations

Party donations

A party donation is a donation of money, goods or services that is made to a party. [See section 207 of the Electoral Act]

Party donations and contributions to donations of more than $15,000 (including GST) are required to be declared in the party’s annual return of donations. A series of donations, or contributions of more than $1,500 to donations, made by one person that adds up to more than $15,000 must also be declared.

A party donation includes:

  • where a party is provided with goods or services free of charge that have a reasonable market value of more than $1,500
  • where a party is provided with discounted goods or services and the reasonable market value of the goods or services is greater than $1,500, the difference between the contract or agreed price and the reasonable market value of the goods or services is a donation
  • when a party sells over-valued goods or services, the difference between the price paid and the reasonable market value is a donation (for example a fundraising auction or dinner)
  • where credit is provided to a party on more favourable terms than those prevailing at the same time for similar credit, the value of the favourable terms is a donation.

The following are not a party donation:

  • volunteer labour
  • goods or services provided free of charge to a party, or to any person on the party’s behalf, that have a reasonable market value of $1,500 or less, or
  • a candidate donation that is included in a candidate’s return of donations.

If a person or organisation gives or pays for goods or services that would otherwise be party election expenses, the reasonable market value of those items whatever their value should be recorded as an election expense.

If the reasonable market value of the items exceed $1,500 it should also be recorded as a donation.

A bequest to a party of money, or the equivalent of money, is a party donation. If the bequest exceeds $15,000, for the name and address to be disclosed, include the executor’s name for the estate of [name of deceased] and the executor’s address. The date the donation was received will be the date the bequest was made by the executor to the party.

Donations made up of contributions

A donation can be made up in part by funds contributed by more than one person (contributors), for example where there is a collection or whip-round for a party’s campaign. [See section 207 of the Electoral Act]

The total proceeds of a collection or whip-round are treated as a donation under the Electoral Act. The person who collects the money will normally be the donor. The individuals who contribute to the collection are contributors for the purposes of the Electoral Act.

If a party donation, other than an anonymous donation, is made up of contributions, the transmitter or donor must tell the party secretary:

  • the name and address of the donor
  • that the donation is made up of contributions
  • in the case of contributions made by any individual contributor that either on its own or when aggregated with other contributions made by the same contributor are greater than $1,500:
    • the name and address of the contributor
    • the amount of the contribution (or the total amount of the aggregated contributions), and
    • whether the contributor is an ‘overseas person’, and
  • the total amount of any other contributions.

If the party secretary knows, or has reasonable grounds to believe, that the donor has failed to supply information about contributions, the whole donation must be returned to the donor.

Example:
If person A writes four cheques for $500 to the party’s campaign committee and persons B, C and D each give $100, and the committee then makes a donation to the party, the party campaign committee organiser would need to disclose to the party secretary that the $2,300 donation is funded from contributions including a contribution of $2,000 from person A, and provide person A’s name and address, and $300 in total from other contributors <$1,500.

Raffles, stalls and other fundraisers

A supporter providing a party with free cakes or other goods or services to use for fundraising is not making a donation for the purposes of the Electoral Act if the value of the items given is worth $1,500 or less. Purchasers of raffle tickets and cakes from a cake stall are not ‘donors’ as they are not making a donation to anyone. The total proceeds of a raffle or a cake stall for a party’s campaign are treated as a donation. The person who runs the raffle or cake stall will normally be the donor.

If the total funds from the raffle or cake stall are over $15,000, then the party’s donation return must include the name and address of the person who ran the fundraiser and subsequently donated the proceeds, along with the total amount given and the date that the donation was received by the party secretary.

Whether the individuals who purchase a ticket or buy a cake are ‘contributors’ depends on whether they bought their ticket or cake in the knowledge or expectation that some or all of the money paid would be included in a donation to the party. This will be a question of fact. It would need to be very clear to purchasers that it is a party fundraiser for the purchasers of tickets to be ‘contributors’.

If the purchasers of raffle tickets are ‘contributors’, the organiser must tell the party secretary at the time of making the donation that the donation is funded from contributions. The donor must also disclose whether the donation is made up of contributions of more than $1,500. If an individual pays more than $15,000 for raffle tickets, their name and address would have to be disclosed in the party’s donation return, along with the amount of their contribution. [See section 207C of the Electoral Act]

If a ticket is sold to a fundraising event, such as a dinner, or an item is auctioned at a fundraising auction, the difference between the price paid for the ticket or item and the reasonable market value of the ticket or item is a donation. Determining the reasonable market value for unique items may be difficult, for example, if you have speakers at the dinner or auction a one-off item. However, parties should not rely on the price paid at a fundraising auction as evidence of reasonable market value.

In the absence of an objective basis to value the donation component that the party secretary can defend, the Commission’s advice would be to err on the side of caution and treat the entire difference between the ticket price or auction price and the reasonable market value of assessable goods or services such as food and beverages, as a donation.

Example:
If person A bids and wins two separate items at a party fundraising auction and pays $1,500 for each item (ie. $3,000 in total), both of which have a reasonable market value of $500 (ie. $1,000 in total) - the donor responsible for the fundraiser would need to disclose that the donation is funded from contributions and identify that person A has contributed $2,000 to the donation and provide person A’s name and address.

Transmitted donations

A party donation can be made either directly by the donor to the party or indirectly by a transmitter who transmits a donation to the party on someone else’s behalf, for example, via a lawyer’s trust fund.

Any person who receives a party donation on the party’s behalf must, within 10 working days of receipt, either transmit it to the party secretary, or deposit the donation into a bank account nominated by the party secretary.

When transmitting a donation, the transmitter must tell the party secretary:

  • that the donation is being transmitted on behalf of a donor
  • the name and address of the donor
  • whether the donation is made up of contributions
  • in the case of contributions made by any individual contributor that either on its own or when aggregated with other contributions made by the same contributor are greater than $1,500:
    • the name and address of the contributor
    • the amount of the contribution (or the total amount of the aggregated contributions), and
    • whether the contributor is an ‘overseas person’, and
  • the total amount of any other contributions.

Where a transmitter does not disclose the name and address of the donor, the donation must be treated as an anonymous donation.

A donation to an electorate committee is considered a transmitted donation with the electorate committee being the transmitter. If the donor does not specify to the electorate committee whether the donation is to the party or the candidate, the presumption is that it is a donation to the party. The electorate committee must within 10 working days of receipt, either transmit it to the party secretary, or deposit the donation into a bank account nominated by the party secretary.

Anonymous donations

Parties are not allowed to retain anonymous donations exceeding $1,500. An anonymous donation is a donation made in such a way that the party secretary who receives the donation does not know the identity of the donor and could not, in the circumstances, reasonably be expected to know the identity of the donor. [See section 207 of the Electoral Act]

If you receive an anonymous donation greater than $1,500 you may retain $1,500 of that donation. The balance of the donation must, within 20 working days of receipt, be paid to the Electoral Commission for payment into a Crown bank account.

A donation from a trust must include the name and address of the settlor of the trust or the person at whose direction the donation was given.

Overseas donations

Parties are not allowed to retain donations or contributions exceeding $1,500 made by an overseas person. [See section 207K of the Electoral Act]

An overseas person is:

  • an individual who resides outside New Zealand and is not a New Zealand citizen or registered elector
  • a body corporate incorporated outside New Zealand, or
  • an unincorporated body that has its head office or principal place of business outside New Zealand.

If you receive a donation from an overseas person greater than $1,500 (either on its own or when aggregated with all other donations from the overseas person) you can retain $1,500 of that donation. The balance of the donation must, within 20 working days of receipt, either be returned to the overseas person who made the donation, or if this is not possible, be paid to the Commission for payment into a Crown bank account.

If you receive any donation from a donor who is not an overseas person that includes a contribution from an overseas person greater than $1,500 (either on its own or when aggregated with all other contributions to the donation from the overseas person) you must return the whole donation to the donor. If that is not possible, the party secretary must forward the whole donation to the Commission for payment into a Crown bank account.

Donations protected from disclosure

A donation protected from disclosure enables a person to make an anonymous donation of more than $1,500 to a registered party without their identity being disclosed to either the public or the party.

The donation is made to the Commission.

The Commission puts the donation together with others and pays it to the party, together with any interest earned without identifying the value of individual donations, or the number or names of donors involved.

The current maximum amount that an individual or body can donate to any one party through this process is $44,628 between two successive elections.

No party may currently receive more than $297,520 from donations protected from disclosure between two successive elections.

If a donation or contribution takes an individual or party over the limit then the Commission will return the excess.

Payments are made weekly, during the period between writ day and the return of the writ for a general election, and monthly at any other time. The Commission must report the total amounts of protected disclosure donations received and amounts
paid to a party secretary quarterly on our website and in our annual report.

Keeping records of donations

Party secretaries must take all reasonable steps to keep records of all party donations received (including donations of less than $15,000). Records have to be retained for three years after returns are filed.

Annual return of party donations

Party secretaries of all registered parties are required to file an annual return of party donations with the Commission.

The return must be filed by 30 April each year for party donations received during the previous calendar year.

The annual return must:

  • be made on the annual party return form, and
  • be accompanied by an auditor’s report.

If there are no donations to report on, the party secretary must file a nil return and obtain an auditor’s report.

The information required for each category of donation is listed below.

Parties must have systems in place to track aggregated totals by donors for the purposes of the annual donations return, as well as immediate disclosure of donations exceeding $30,000.

Donations to an electorate candidate disclosed in the candidate’s post-election return are not included.

The returns are open to public inspection and are published on the Commission’s website.

Donations exceeding $15,000

For donations of more than $15,000, other than anonymous or overseas donations, the party secretary will need to provide the following details:

  • the name and address of the donor
  • the amount of the donation, or in the case of aggregated donations, the total amount of the donations
  • the date that the donation was received, or in the case of aggregated donations, the date each donation was received
  • whether the donation is made up of contributions, and
  • whether the donation is made up of any contributions of more than $15,000 (either on its own or when aggregated with all other contributions from the contributor to the donation or to other donations during the year), and if so:
    • the name and address of each contributor
    • the amount of the contribution, or in the case of aggregated contributions, the total amount of aggregated contributions, made by the contributor, and
    • the date on which the donation or each related donation funded from contributions was made.

Donations exceeding $30,000 that have been disclosed during the year under section 210C of the Electoral Act also need to be included.

Anonymous donations

For anonymous donations exceeding $1,500, the party secretary will need to provide:

  • the date the donation was received
  • the amount received, and
  • the amount paid to the Commission and the date payment was made.

Donations from overseas persons

For donations by overseas persons exceeding $1,500 (either on its own or aggregated with all other donations by the same overseas person during the year), the details required are:

  • the name and address of the overseas person
  • the amount of the donation or, in the case of aggregated donations, the total amount of the donations
  • the date that the donation was received or, in the case of aggregated donations, the date each donation was received, and
  • the amount returned to the overseas person or paid to the Commission, and the date that such return or payment was made.

Contributions from overseas persons

For contributions to any party donation by an overseas person exceeding $1,500 (either on its own or aggregated with other contributions to the donation by the same overseas person) the party secretary will need to provide:

  • the name and address of the overseas person
  • the amount of the contribution, or in the case of aggregated contributions, the total amount of aggregated contributions
  • the date on which the related donation funded from the contribution was made, and
  • the amount returned to the donor or paid to the Commission, and the date that such return or payment was made.

Protected disclosure donations

For protected disclosure donations paid to a party from the Commission, the party secretary must include:

  • the date the payment was received
  •  the amount of the payment
  • the amount of any interest included in the payment.

Donations below $15,000

The total number and total amount of donations below $15,000 in the following bands must also be included in the party’s donations return:

  • anonymous party donations of $1,500 or less,
  • overseas party donations of $1,500 or less
  • party donations of more than $1,500 up to and including $5,000
  • party donations of more than $5,000 up to and including $15,000.

Unlike the other donation disclosure requirements, aggregation is not required for the purposes of determining what donations to include and in which band.

Example:
If a donor gives the party $150 a month, the donations should be treated as 12 separate donations of $150, not one donation of $1,800. The 12 donations are not required to be disclosed as they are each less than $1,500.

Auditor’s report

All party donation returns must be accompanied by an auditor’s report. We suggest the party secretary familiarise themselves with section 210A of the Electoral Act which sets out the audit requirements.

The audit requirements for donations returns are similar to those for a party’s election expenses.

Immediate disclosure of donations exceeding $30,000

Parties are also required to make immediate disclosure within 10 working days of receipt to the Commission of every donation that:

  • exceeds $30,000, or
  • when aggregated with all other donations by the same donor in the last 12 months, exceeds $30,000 [See section 210C of the Electoral Act]

Disclosure is made using the Commission's return form for donations exceeding $30,000.

Party secretaries must have systems in place to track aggregated donations by the same donor for the purposes of the annual donations return, as well as immediate disclosure of donations exceeding $30,000.

To complete the return, the party secretary must provide the following details:

  • • the name and address of the donor
  • the amount of the donation, and
  • the date the donation was received.

If the donation includes a contribution exceeding $30,000 from the same contributor, the party secretary must also disclose:

  • • the name and address of the contributor, and
  • • the amount of the contribution.

After a return is filed, aggregation for the purposes of future section 210C returns restarts at $0 for the donor named in the return.

Party Loans

A party loan is defined as a written or oral agreement under which a lender lends money to a political party. [See section 212 of the Electoral Act]

Party loans of more than $15,000 are required to be disclosed in the party's annual return of loans.

The loan amount is the amount of money lent by the lender under the loan or in the case of an agreement to lend money in the future (for example, a revolving credit facility) – the maximum amount that may be owed at any one time.

Money lent by a registered bank at a commercial interest rate is not a party loan. Credit cards and overdraft facilities with registered banks are excluded.

Registered banks are those registered with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. The full list of registered banks can be found at: http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/regulationand- supervision/banks/register/

Party secretaries are required to file an annual return by 30 April each year and must make immediate disclosure within 10 working days of any party loans exceeding $30,000 from the same lender within a 12 month period.

Authority to enter into party loans

Only the party secretary can enter into a loan on behalf of the party.

If the party secretary enters into a loan that is not in writing, the party secretary must keep a proper written record of the loan.

If a loan is entered into by a party that does not have the authorisation of the party secretary, or is entered into by a person who is not the party secretary and/ or the party secretary does not keep proper records of a non-written loan, the loan will be an illegal contract under the Illegal Contracts Act 1970.

Keeping records of loans

Party secretaries must take all reasonable steps to keep records of all party loans entered into (including loans of less than $15,000). Records of each loan have to be retained for three years after the annual return following the repayment of the loan.

Annual return of loans

Party secretaries of all registered parties are required to file an annual return of party loans with the Commission.

The return must be filed by 30 April each year for party loans received during the previous calendar year.

The annual return must be:

  • made on the Annual Party Return form
  • accompanied by an auditor’s report.

If there are no loans to report the party secretary must file a nil return and obtain an auditor's report.

The returns are open to public inspection and are published on the Commission’s website.

Disclosure of loans exceeding $15,000

You must disclose in your annual return, every loan entered into:

  • during the year that has a loan amount exceeding $15,000, and
  • in any previous year that has an unpaid balance as at 31 December exceeding $15,000.

You must also disclose loans entered during the year of less than or equal to $15,000, if the loan exceeds $15,000 when aggregated with:

  • all other loans entered into during the year by the same lender, or
  • the unpaid balances as at 31 December of that year, on loans provided by the same lender in any previous years.

Loans exceeding $30,000 that have been disclosed during the year under section 214F of the Electoral Act also need to be included.

To complete the return, the party secretary must provide the following details:

  • the name and address of the lender
  • the loan amount
  • the date on which the loan was entered into
  • the repayment date for the loan (or a statement that there is no repayment date)
  • the interest rate, or rates
  • the unpaid balance of the loan amount (if any)
  • the name and address of any guarantor of the loan
  • the details of any security given for the loan
  • whether there is any term or arrangement in the loan that enables the lender to reduce or extinguish the loan amount or interest and/or grant any concession in respect of repayment, and
  • where the loans from the same lender have been aggregated, the total of the aggregated loan amounts.

Disclosure of all other loans of between $1,500 and $15,000

In the annual return party secretaries must also disclose all other loans of $1,500 or more up to and including $15,000 entered into during the year.

To complete the return, the party secretary must provide the following:

  • the number of loans, and
  • the total of the aggregated loan amounts.

Aggregating multiple loans

When aggregating multiple loans within the year the principal sums are to be used.

For loans from previous years the amount outstanding as at 31 December is to be aggregated.

For disclosure of loans in bands $1,500 to 15,000, only principal sums are to be aggregated.

Example:
Multiple loans

As at 30 April 2017 Party X has entered into the following loans:

  • Loan for $15,500 from A made in the 2016 calendar year i.e. Jan to Dec 2016 – unpaid balance at 31 Dec is $14,900
  • Loan for $20,000 from B (a registered bank at commercial rates) made in the 2016 calendar year
  • Loan for $10,000 from C made in the 2016 calendar year
  • Loan for $14,000 from D made in the 2016 calendar year, balance of $12,000 owing as at 31 Dec
  • Loan for $16,000 from D made in the 2015 calendar year, balance of $5,000 owing
  • Loan for $20,000 from E made in the 2015 calendar year, balance of $14,000 owing.

The loan from A needs to be disclosed because principal sums ($15,500) are used to determine whether the loan exceeds the $15,000 disclosure threshold.
The loan from B is not required to be disclosed because it is with a registered bank at commercial rates.
The details of the loan from C do not need to be disclosed because it is below the $15,000 disclosure threshold. However, the amount will need to be included as part of the total sum of all other loans between $1,500 and $15,000.
The two loans from D need to be disclosed because multiple loans from the same lender need to be aggregated using the amount outstanding as at 31 Dec. The total unpaid balance of $17,000 would be disclosed.
The loan from E is not required to be disclosed because the balance owing has fallen below the $15,000 threshold.

Auditor's report

All annual party loan returns must be accompanied by an auditor’s report. We suggest the party secretary familiarise themselves with section 214D of the Electoral Act which sets out the audit requirements.

The audit requirements for loans returns are similar to those for a party’s election expenses.

Immediate disclosure of loans exceeding $30,000

Parties are also required to make immediate disclosure within 10 working days of receipt to the Commission of every loan entered into that:

  • has a loan amount exceeding $30,000, or
  • when aggregated with all other loan amounts provided by the same lender in the last 12 months, exceeds $30,000. [See section 214F of the Electoral Act]

Disclosure is made using the Commission's return form for loans exceeding $30,000. Party secretaries must have systems in place to track aggregated totals by lenders for the purposes of the annual loans return, as well as immediate disclosure of loans exceeding $30,000.

To complete the return, the party secretary must provide the following details:

  • the name of the lender
  • the address of the lender
  • the loan amount
  • the date on which the loan was entered into
  •  the repayment date for the loan (or a statement that there is no repayment date)
  • the unpaid balance of the loan amount (if any)
  • the name and address of any guarantor of the loan
  • the details of any security given for the loan, and
  • whether there is any term or arrangement in the loan that enables the lender to reduce or extinguish the loan amount or interest and/or grant any concession in respect of repayment.

Aggregation for the purpose of a section 214F return is based only on principal loan amounts. After a return is filed, aggregation for the purposes of future section 214F returns restarts at $0 for the lendor named in the return.

Last updated: 10 April 2017