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2021 NSW Local Government elections: Political Participants Bulletin No.15

Bulletin No.15
Issued 1 November 2021

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1. Nominations close at 12 noon Wednesday

The nomination lodgement period ends at 12 noon, Wednesday, 3 November 2021.

Please note:

  • the deadline is set by legislation and cannot be extended under any circumstances, and

  • being registered with the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) for electoral funding purposes is not the same as being nominated. Already registered candidates and groups who still wish to run in these elections must also nominate by the Wednesday noon deadline.

For these council elections, candidates and registered political parties may lodge their nomination forms and pay the nomination deposit online for the first time using our Nominations Online Management System (NOMS). Candidates and parties are strongly encouraged to lodge their nomination online using NOMS. If lodging via NOMS, the nomination deposit must be paid by Visa or MasterCard. 

Access NOMS

Any nomination forms or deposits received – either online, by email or in person to a Returning Officer’s office – after 12 noon, Wednesday, 3 November will not be accepted. The statutory deadline cannot be extended, even for a few minutes.

Completing a nomination online properly

As part of the nomination acceptance process, the NSWEC reviews each nomination form.

We have noted that for some nominations there is a discrepancy between the information provided on the final, signed nomination form that is uploaded by the candidate into NOMS at the end of the process, and the data that has been typed by the candidate into the database fields in NOMS. This is mainly caused by some candidates lodging an earlier version of their nomination form, for example, forms that were prepared for the (postponed) September 2021 local government elections. 

Candidates must ensure the information on their signed nomination forms is accurate and complete prior to lodgement. The NSWEC can only consider information that appears on the signed nomination form when determining whether a nomination can be accepted or rejected. As the lodgement deadline approaches, there is also very limited time for candidates to correct omissions or other errors.

If any candidate who has already lodged wishes to amend any of the information appearing on their current signed nomination form, they should urgently:

  • make their own updates through NOMS,

  • generate a fresh nomination form, and

  • sign and upload the new signed nomination form into NOMS prior to 12 noon, Wednesday, 3 November 2021.

Lodgement in person if NOMS is not feasible

If it is not feasible for a candidate to use NOMS, paper nominations can still be lodged (subject to COVID-19 public health advice) in-person at the Returning Officer’s office, or at a nominated council office accepting nominations for the area for which a candidate is nominating.

These nominations must also be lodged by 12 noon, Wednesday, 3 November 2021. They cannot be amended after this deadline has passed.

When lodging in person, the nomination deposit is payable by cash or bank/building society cheque.

The NSWEC website has a list of Returning Officers’ offices and council offices accepting nominations.

Please phone the Returning Officer’s office to make an appointment if you wish to lodge your nomination in-person.

When attending a Returning Officer’s office or council office to lodge your nomination you must:

  • register your attendance via the Service NSW app using a QR code. If it is not possible for you to register via the Service NSW app, you will be required to provide your details to a staff member,

  • comply with physical distancing requirements, and

  • wear a mask whilst inside the office.

Please note that some council offices may have additional COVID-19 safety requirements for visitors, such as evidence of vaccination status, before allowing entry to their buildings. It is important you check ahead with your local council before arriving to lodge your nomination in person at a council office.

Candidates and parties are strongly encouraged to consider using NOMs rather than lodging a nomination in-person.

For assistance using NOMS please call our Candidate Helpdesk on 1300 022 011 or email candidates@elections.nsw.gov.au.

2. Ballot paper draw details and COVID-19 protocol

The Returning Officer for each local government area will formally announce the candidates, and conduct a draw to determine the order of groups (where applicable) and candidate names on the ballot paper, at the office of the relevant Returning Officer from 10am, Thursday, 4 November 2021.

The ballot paper draw is a public event, however, due to the pandemic, observing the ballot paper draw in person MUST be subject to the following COVID-19 safety requirements:

  • use of the venue QR code check in, or the manual process available if attendees do not have a smart phone,

  • wearing of face masks, for attendees’ own safety and that of those around them (noting that all NSWEC workers are also required to wear masks),

  • maintaining physical distancing of 1.5m between people to the venue capacity of 1 person per 4 square metres. This includes refraining from shaking hands or other physical contact, and

  • use of hand sanitising stations located throughout the Returning Officer’s office.

Attendees at the ballot paper draw are visitors to a NSWEC workplace and consequently have their own duties under workplace health & safety laws. If they refuse to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols outline above:

  • they will be personally responsible for any risks arising from their conduct to other persons present, and

  • they will be asked to leave the venue by election officials.

Prior to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the NSWEC produced a series of videos showing the process of ballot paper draws. Although the process remains unchanged, the COVID-19 risk management protocols have changed since the videos were made:

For further information on how the ballot paper draws are conducted, please refer to section 8 of the Candidate Handbook under step 1 of the Six steps to being a candidate.

3. Candidate information webinars

The remaining candidate information webinars will be conducted on:

  • 11am, Monday, 8 November – iVote explained

  • 11am, Thursday, 18 November – Early voting and election day voting

  • 11am, Tuesday, 30 November – Candidate workers, scrutineers, counting and results

Register your attendance and view past webinars.

4. Registration as a candidate/group under electoral funding laws closing soon

Nominating to have a name included on a ballot paper is a separate process to being registered with the NSWEC for electoral funding purposes.

Candidates and groups who are not already registered for electoral funding purposes must not accept political donations or make payments for electoral expenditure until the day the Returning Officer officially nominates the candidates and groups in a local government area. As noted above, this will occur on Thursday, 4 November.

From that date, all nominated candidates and groups are deemed to be registered and can lawfully accept political donations and make payments for electoral expenditure for the election. Each candidate and group deemed registered after the close of nominations will be notified by the NSWEC in writing and advised of the caps on electoral expenditure that apply in their local government area or ward.

However candidates and groups can still apply to register until Wednesday, 3 November, if they need to accept donations or incur expenditure before 4 November. 

More information on registering for the election

5. Registration as a third-party campaigner under electoral funding laws

Third-party campaigners must be registered for the elections in a local government area before paying for more than $2,000 in electoral expenditure.

A third-party campaigner is a person or entity (other than a political party, candidate, group, elected member, or associated entity) that incurs more than $2,000 in electoral expenditure for an election in a local government area between 1 July 2021 and election day.

Electoral expenditure incurred by a third-party campaigner is expenditure that has the dominant purpose of promoting or opposing a political party or candidate or influencing the vote at an election.

Registration of third-party campaigners is open now and closes on Monday, 29 November. Use the following form to apply to register as a third-party campaigner: EF.735 Application to register a third-party campaigner and notice of appointment of official agent.

When registering, a third-party campaigner must also appoint an official agent, who is responsible for the management and disclosure of the third-party campaigner’s political donations and electoral expenditure. This includes operating a campaign account on behalf of the third-party campaigner.

Registration only takes effect when confirmed by the NSWEC, not the date a third-party campaigner applies for registration.

The details of registered third-party campaigners and official agents are included in publicly available registers on our website.

Once registered, third-party campaigners and official agents whose registered details change must notify us within 30 days by submitting the following form: EF.740 Notice of change in registered particulars.

More information on registering for the election and updating your registered details

6. Your disclosure obligations after these elections

Registered candidates, current councillors and mayors, and political parties have legal obligations to disclose their political donations and electoral expenditure to the NSWEC for disclosure periods up to and including the end of the 2021–22 financial year. 

These obligations apply even if a candidate is not successful at the elections. Failing to disclose where disclosure is required is an offence.

Registered candidates and groups must also notify NSWEC within 30 day of any changes in registered details by using Funding and Disclosure Online or by submitting the Notice of change in registered particulars (EF.740) form available on our website.

Funding and Disclosure Online is a convenient, secure and accessible way for candidates, groups, elected members and party agents to interact with NSWEC. We encourage those who have not yet set up their access to do so as soon as possible.

The portal can be used to complete a range of tasks including submitting donation and expenditure disclosures, maintaining registered details with us and tracking the progress of what you submit.

Setting up access now to Funding and Disclosure Online means you will be able to start entering the details of your political donations and electoral expenditure to make it easier when it is time to submit your disclosures.

Get started with Funding and Disclosure Online by requesting access

When NSWEC has approved your access, you will receive an email to activate your account. When your account is activated you can login to Funding and Disclosure Online at any time.

Find out more about Funding and Disclosure Online and what the portal can be used for

7. Electoral campaign funding rules

Caps on electoral expenditure

Electoral expenditure for these elections is capped by law during the capped expenditure period. This means there is a strict limit on the amount of expenditure that can be incurred by political parties, candidates, groups, and third-party campaigners.

The capped expenditure period began on 1 July 2021 and finishes at the end of election day, 4 December 2021.

The caps are based on the number of enrolled electors in each local government area or ward as determined by the Electoral Commissioner. The number of enrolled electors and the applicable caps for each area and ward can be found on our website. All registered candidates, groups, and third-party campaigners are notified of the number of enrolled electors in their area or ward and the specific expenditure caps that apply to them at the elections.

More information about the rules that apply to expenditure caps

Caps on political donations and indirect campaign contributions

Political donations and indirect campaign contributions are capped at these elections. Political parties, candidates, groups, elected members, third-party campaigners, and associated entities can only accept a certain amount from each donor in a financial year.

The caps for the 2021–22 financial year, commencing 1 July 2021, are:

Political donation or indirect campaign contribution made to or for the benefit of

Cap amount

A registered party or group of candidates


An unregistered party (or party registered for less than 12 months), elected member, candidate, third-party campaigner or associated entity


It is unlawful to accept a political donation that exceeds the applicable donation cap. It is unlawful to make or accept an unlawful indirect campaign contribution.

More information about the caps on political donations and indirect campaign contributions

Ban on cash donations over $100 and other unlawful political donations

Cash donations over $100 are banned. Donations over $100 must be paid electronically or by cheque.

Political donations can only be accepted from people, organisations and other entities that are lawfully entitled to make donations. A political donor must:

  • be enrolled to vote at NSW State or local government elections or enrolled to vote anywhere in Australia for a federal election, or

  • have an ABN or other unique business number recognised by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

If not lawfully entitled to make political donations, a prospective donor may apply to be approved by the Electoral Commission to make political donations by using the following form: EF.708 Application for approval of acceptable identification by a potential political donor.

In addition, political donations must not be made by or accepted from property developers, liquor, gambling or tobacco entities and their close associates.

More information about unlawful political donors and unlawful political donations

Campaign accounts

Candidates, groups, political parties, elected members, and third-party campaigners may be required to use a campaign account to pay for their electoral expenditure and deposit political donations.

A candidate or group of candidates must open a campaign account before accepting $1,000 or more in political donations or making payments of $1,000 or more in electoral expenditure. All political donations used to make payments for electoral expenditure must be paid into the campaign account and the electoral expenditure must be paid from the campaign account.

The campaign account of a group must be separate to any campaign accounts of the candidates who are members of the group.

If a candidate or group has a campaign account open from the previous election, the account must be cleared before being used for the 2021 election. The balance left in the account from the previous election must be dispersed in accordance with the rules outlined on our website.

All electoral expenditure incurred by a party for a local government election campaign must be paid from the party’s local government campaign account. The party’s campaign account must be separate to any campaign accounts of the party’s endorsed candidates and groups.

Third-party campaigners must open a campaign account before making payments for electoral expenditure during the capped expenditure period (1 July 2021 to election day).

More information about campaign accounts

8. Protection from COVID-19 in our voting and counting venues

The NSWEC is required to put in place measures to minimise risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of electors, election staff and political participants, including to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Our staff, electors and political participants who attend election venues during an election also all have a duty under work health and safety law to take reasonable care for their own and others’ health and safety arising from COVID-19.

To minimise COVID-19 risks, the Electoral Commissioner has decided that to be eligible to work in voting venues, counting places, and Returning Officers’ offices, election officials must be vaccinated (unless they have a medical contraindication) and must wear face masks when working. Our election officials will also be authorised to give instructions to voters and political participants at our venues to follow the NSWEC’s COVID-19 Safety Plan at these elections.

A copy of our Safety Plan is available on our website.

9. Fairfield and Penrith council elections

Fairfield City and Penrith City councils have engaged a commercial electoral services provider to administer their 2021 elections.

Information in this bulletin about the requirement for registration with the Electoral Commission for electoral funding purposes (accepting political donations and incurring electoral expenditure) still applies to candidates and other participants in those elections. Offences under local government electoral laws at all council elections are also enforced by the Electoral Commission.

However, participants in the Fairfield and Penrith council elections must contact those councils directly about their arrangements for the administration of nominations, registration of electoral material, applying for postal votes and declaration of results for those elections. The information in our bulletins about these matters does not apply for Fairfield and Penrith elections.