Overview 

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

Under the Queensland Electoral Act 1992, donors who make gifts of $1,000 or more to a particular candidate, registered political party or another third party (either as a single gift or cumulatively to the same recipient) must lodge returns in the Electronic Disclosure System (EDS).

In addition to this, third parties which 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 provided to help you decide whether or not you must register as a third party with the ECQ. It acts as a guide only. You are ultimately responsible for confirming your status under the legislation and for being aware of the requirements and obligations of third parties who are electoral participants in Queensland.

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Registration

The registration of third parties makes their roles and actions transparent to the public. Third parties must register with the ECQ if the electoral expenditure they incur cumulatively exceeds $6,000 during the capped expenditure period.

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 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 may choose to do so.

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.

Using a State campaign bank account (registered third party)

State campaign bank accounts are required to ensure transparency of financial transactions relating to State elections and by-elections.

A registered third party must use a dedicated State campaign bank account to pay for all electoral expenditure incurred for a State election campaign.

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

Disclosing gifts (third parties / donors)

Making donations to a registered political party or State election candidate

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

Gifts include:

  • political donations.
  • non-monetary gifts (gifts-in-kind).
  • fundraising contributions (over $200).
  • gifted electoral expenditure.

Receiving donations from another third party

Third parties (both registered and unregistered) must disclose details of any gift they receive if they use that gift (in whole or in part) to:

  • make a donation to, or for the benefit of, a registered political party or State election candidate,
  • make a donation to another person to enable that person to make a donation to a registered political party or State election candidate, or
  • incur electoral expenditure for a State election.

Links to further information: ​

Caps on political donations (third parties / donors)

Queensland’s electoral laws impose limitations (caps) on the amount or value of political donations which can be made to, or received by, registered political parties or State election candidates.

Not all gifts or loans made to political parties or State election candidates are political donations. Caps only apply to political donations.

A political donation is any gift or loan given to a registered political party or State election candidate, that, within 14 days, is accompanied by a Donor Statement.

Between 1 July 2022 and 25 November 2024, donors/third parties must not make political donations of more than:

  • $4,000 to the same registered political party,
  • $6,000 to an independent candidate, and
  • $6,000 to candidates endorsed by the same registered political party.

The caps will be adjusted after the 2024 State general election, and a new cap will apply from 26 November 2024 to 27 November 2028.

A political donation must not exceed the cap either by itself, or when added to other political donations made by the same donor during the same period.

Incurring electoral expenditure (third parties)

Registered third parties must ensure that all electoral expenditure is paid from their State campaign account. Third parties who are not required to register do not need to operate a dedicated State campaign bank account, but they must not spend more than $6,000 in electoral expenditure during the capped expenditure period.

Electoral expenditure caps for a State general election

Registered third parties can incur electoral expenditure up to:

  • $90,748.65 in any single electoral district, but
  • no more than $1,043,087.97 in total across the State.

The capped expenditure period for the 2024 State general election starts on Tuesday, 2 April 2024 and ends at 6pm on the polling day for the election.

Any expenditure incurred before the capped expenditure period will still count towards the cap if the goods purchased by the expenditure are used for a campaign purpose during the capped period.

Electoral expenditure caps for a by-election

Registered third parties can incur electoral expenditure up to $90,748.65 in any single electoral district.

The capped expenditure period for a by-election starts on the day the writ is issued and ends at 6pm on the polling day for the election.

Any expenditure incurred before the capped expenditure period will still count towards the cap if the associated goods are first used for a campaign purpose during the capped period.

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)

Registered third parties (and those that are required to register) must lodge an election summary return for electoral expenditure incurred for the election. The return must include a copy of the bank statement for the third party’s State campaign account.

Election summary returns must be lodged within 15 weeks after the election.

Links to further information: ​

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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Links to further information: