Overview 

A third party is an individual or an entity, based in or outside Queensland, who makes donations or incurs electoral expenditure in support of candidates or registered political parties.  ​

Under the Queensland Electoral Act 1992, third parties and donors who make gifts or loans, or incur electoral expenditure, of $1,000 or more (cumulative value), in support of a candidate, political party or another third party, are required to lodge election summary (disclosure) returns in the Electronic Disclosure System (EDS).

In addition to this, third parties who incur more than $6,000 in electoral expenditure towards a State election or by-election during the capped expenditure period for an election, are required to formally register with the ECQ. The details of the third party will then be added to the Register of Third Parties for the election.

This tool is designed to act as a guide as to whether or not you may be required to register as a third party with the ECQ. It does not remove the responsibility for individuals and organisations to otherwise confirm their status under the legislation and to be aware of the requirements and obligations of third parties as electoral participants in Queensland. 

Recent changes to legislation affecting third parties:

  • Requirement to formally register with the ECQ (i.e. third parties who spend more than $6,000 during the capped expenditure period for an election)
  • Registered third parties must operate a dedicated State campaign bank account
  • If a registered third party is an organisation, they must appoint an agent.
  • Caps on electoral expenditure for third parties
  • Increased record keeping obligations
  • Restrictions on the display of election signage at polling places

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Registration

Registration of third parties provides transparency of roles and actions to the public. Third parties must register with the ECQ if expenditure incurred cumulatively exceeds $6,000. However, any amount singly or cumulatively amounting to over $1,000 towards an election, must be disclosed to the ECQ in the Electronic Disclosure System.

Registered third parties have additional disclosure and reporting obligations and are required to operate a dedicated State campaign bank account.

A registered third party that is an organisational or entity (i.e. not an individual) must appoint an agent. A third party who is an individual or an unregistered third party does not need to appoint an agent but may choose to.

Appointing or change an agent (third party)

Agents play an important role in elections as they are responsible for election funding and disclosure obligations.

A registered third party that is an organisation or entity (i.e. not an individual) must appoint an agent.

A third party, who is an individual or an unregistered third party, does not need to appoint an agent but has the option to do so.

Notification of State campaign bank accounts (registered third party)

State campaign bank accounts are required to ensure transparency of financial matters relating to State election and by-election campaigns.

A registered third party must operate a dedicated State campaign bank account for all electoral expenditure incurred towards a State election campaign.

Bank account details must be provided within 5 business days of registering the third party with the ECQ.

Disclosing gifts and loans (third party/donor)

Third parties (both registered and unregistered) who make a donation to a candidate or registered political party of $1,000 or more, must disclose the donation in real-time (i.e. within 7 business days) in the ECQ’s Electronic Disclosure System (EDS).

Donations include:

  • gifts
  • loans
  • non-monetary gifts (gifts-in-kind)
  • fundraising contributions
  • gifted electoral expenditure.

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Incurring electoral expenditure (third party)

A third party or donor which incurs electoral expenditure in support of the election campaign of a  registered political party or a candidate with goods or services, must disclose these to the ECQ when the cumulative amount exceeds $1,000.

The expenditure cap for a State election or by-election for a registered third party is: $87,000 for each electoral district, with a maximum of $1 million in total for the election.

Electoral advertising (third party)

There are a range of regulations that apply to electoral advertising, authorisation of electoral material and the display of election signage at polling places.

Third parties should ensure they fully understand election signage regulations before they display any signage at polling places.

Lodging election summary returns (third party/donor)

Third parties must lodge an election summary return for electoral expenditure incurred after the election. Election summary returns must be lodged in the Electronic Disclosure System (EDS) within 15 weeks after the election.​ 

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Cancelling the registration of a third party

The agent of a registered third party may apply to the ECQ to cancel the third party’s registration for an election. The registration of the registered third party must be cancelled for the election if the ECQ is satisfied that the obligations that apply to a third party for the election under the Electoral Act 1992 have been completed. 
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