Resource material › Our Policy Advice Areas › Questions and Answers about the Local Electoral Amendment Act
What are the main changes to the Local Electoral Act?
There are three key changes to the Local Electoral Act. Transparency about campaign donations has been tightened and increased, pre-election processes are more streamlined and the quality and availability of information about candidates has been improved.
What are the changes to the donation provisions?
The terms "anonymous" and "donation" are more clearly defined.
There is now a limit of $1500 on any single anonymous donation.
Any candidate receiving an anonymous donation of more than that limit must pay the excess (over the $1500 limit) to the electoral officer who pays it into the general account of the relevant local authority.
Candidate must disclose all donations above $1500 (included aggregated donations) in their return of electoral expenses and donation information. This includes the names and addresses of all donors.
There is a new requirement for all candidates to disclose, in their return of electoral donations and expenses, whether a donation is funded from contributions and the name and address of any individuals contributing amounts in excess of $1,500.
There are new obligations on a third party, who passes on a donation to a candidate on behalf of a donor, to disclose the identity of the donor to the candidate.
There are also new obligations on a person administering a candidate’s campaign to disclose the identity of the donor of an anonymous donation of more than $1,500 (if known) to the candidate.
There are new penalty provisions for non-compliance with the new requirements.
There are better provisions for public access to candidate returns of electoral donations and expenses, for example electoral officers must publish all candidates’ returns.
How well does the new Act align with the Electoral Act?
The two Acts are now more closely aligned. However, there are still some differences because of the need to fit provisions into the context of local as opposed to national elections.
Why was there a need to change pre-election processes?
Many of the improvements were recommended by councils, electoral officers, and others involved in the running of local authority elections. The changes include, for example streamlining candidate nomination processes and giving electoral officers an extra week to produce high-quality voting documents.
What are the changes to the setting of local authority electoral boundaries?
Unitary authorities, city councils, and district councils now have more flexibility to set ward boundaries in a way that better reflects communities of interest (after the 2013 local authority elections).
How will candidate information be improved?
Candidates’ profile statements now have to specify all the positions they are seeking election for and state whether they live in the local authority area where they are seeking election.
Why is candidates’ ability to withdraw their candidacy after the close of nominations being removed?
This change brings the rules governing withdrawals for candidates in local elections into line with the rules for Parliamentary elections and was recommended by the Local Government Commission. It will remove candidates’ ability to withdraw for political reasons and will remove costs associated with withdrawals for local authorities.
Why are electoral officers being allowed an extra week to process voting documents?
The current short timeframe for preparing voting documents has been identified by electoral officers as an issue.