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When is electoral expenditure taken to be incurred?

For the purpose of the expenditure caps, electoral expenditure is incurred when the services are provided or when the goods are delivered. In particular:

  • advertising expenditure is incurred when the advertising is broadcast or published
  • expenditure on the production and distribution of election material is incurred when the material is distributed 
  • expenditure on employing staff is incurred during the period the staff member is employed.

Even if expenditure is paid for outside of the capped expenditure period, the expenditure is subject to the expenditure caps if incurred as described above during the capped expenditure period.

Re-use of election material

Expenditure on election material that was produced for a previous election campaign is subject to the expenditure cap for a subsequent election if it is re-used and distributed during the capped expenditure period for the subsequent election.

Expenditure on re-used election material is subject to the expenditure cap even if the expenditure was previously disclosed. Importantly, only the amount that was spent on the proportion of material being re-used (i.e. distributed again at the subsequent election) is subject to the expenditure cap for the subsequent election. For example:

A candidate at the 2021 Local Government elections previously ran for election in 2016. The candidate spent $500 on producing 10 posters for their 2016 election campaign.

The candidate still has five posters that are in good condition and decides to re-use these for their 2021 election campaign.

The candidate distributes the five posters during the capped expenditure period for the 2021 elections. $250 of the expenditure would be subject to the candidate’s expenditure cap for the 2021 election. This example is also shown below.

2016 Local Government elections

2021 Local Government elections

Production of 10 posters = $500 total*

* Expenditure disclosed in the annual disclosure for the 12-month period ending 30 June 2017.

5 out of 10 (50%) of posters re-used

50% of $500 (original cost) = $250 total

$250 is subject to expenditure cap^

^ Expenditure does not need to be re-disclosed in the annual disclosure for the period ending 30 June 2022, but the check box on the disclosure form must be ticked to indicate material was re-used during the annual period.

It is important that you keep records that allow for the portion of material used at each election to be quantified.