Background

The Commonwealth government published an amendment to the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) regulation at the end of April which had been announced on 5 December 2017.

The Amending Regulations amend the ACNC Regulation to require the ACNC Commissioner to publish information on the ACNC Register about where to find details of the electoral expenditure and political donations of registered charities when such expenditures have been reported to and published by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Details of such expenditures are publicly available on the AEC’s Transparency Register (https://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/financial_disclosure/transparency-register/), and the information provided by the ACNC Commissioner will consist of an electronic link to the entry for the charity on the website of the Transparency Register.

Where charities incur expenditure above the disclosure threshold in a financial year (from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021more than $14,300) for the purpose of influencing the way electors vote in an election, they are subject to the requirements of the Electoral Act.  Charities are required to disclose domestic donations to the AEC for the amount or value equal to or above the disclosure threshold, which is then used:

  • to incur electoral expenditure;
  • to create or communicate electoral matter; or
  • to reimburse the charity for one of these activities.

The regulation is due to commence on 30 July 2021 unless disallowed by the Parliament.

The 2017 government press release also included that “relevant criminal activities of charities’ staff or responsible persons in the Annual Information Statement” would also be included on the ACNC register. This may not need an amendment to the regulations but merely the Annual Information Statement which is within the power of the ACNC Commissioner.