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Register a party

Making an application to register a political party is a time consuming and complex process. Political parties should be prepared before applying to be registered to facilitate the application process. The following preparation by the party is important:

  • understand it takes time to register and that the party will not receive the entitlements of registration until registered for 12 months

  • propose a legally compliant registered party name

  • include all documents and forms required for registration

  • confirm the party has the following office bearers including:

    • a secretary

    • a registered officer and

    • a deputy registered officer.

  • have $2,000 available to pay the application fee to be a registered party for state elections (there is no application fee to be a registered party for local government elections). 

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When to apply to register a political party

A political party can apply to be registered at any time, however, a party should consider the following:

  • parties seeking to be registered for a particular election in order to receive the entitlements of registration should submit their application for registration to the NSW Electoral Commissioner at least 16 months before that election, and

  • the NSW Electoral Commissioner is not authorised to deal with an application for registration during an election period.

An application for registration is assessed to determine whether the party meets the requirements for registration. It takes a minimum of 12 weeks for the NSW Electoral Commission to deal with an application which includes:

  • assessing the party’s proposed registered name

  • undertaking tests and inquiries to confirm the party’s eligibility for registration including confirming the members the party is relying on for registration

  • undertaking a public notice period for the proposed registration of a new party

  • addressing any objections to the application.

Legally compliant party name

Deciding on a registered name for the party is an important early step in the registration process. There are rules governing the names of registered parties.

Parties intending to apply to be registered should be aware that the NSW Electoral Commissioner may refuse to register a party, if the name of the party or the abbreviation of the name does not meet the requirements.

A registered party name must:

  • be consistent with the party’s name in its constitution

  • be no more than six words long

  • not be obscene or offensive

  • not be the same name, abbreviation or acronym of the name of another party in New South Wales or a party that has been de-registered in the last two years

  • not be a derivative of the name of another party in New South Wales or a party that has been de-registered in the last two years and

  • not include the words “Independent Party” or “Independent” and contain the name that is similar or the abbreviation of another registered party.

Abbreviated party name

A party may register an abbreviation of its name (such as a shortened version or an acronym/initialism of its full party name) in addition to its registered name. 

During an election, the party may elect to display either the registered name or abbreviated party name in electoral material and on the ballot paper.

Establish a written constitution

A party intending to be registered must be established on the basis of a written constitution. The party’s name in its constitution must be consistent with the party’s registered name. 

An application for registration must set out the following information, unless the information is in the written constitution:

  • the party’s object (one of which must be endorsement of candidates at state or local government elections)

  • the procedures for amending the party’s written constitution

  • the rules for membership of the party, including the procedure for accepting a person as a member and ending a person’s membership (this, in part, demonstrates the party maintaining the requisite number of members to be eligible to be registered)

  • a description of the party structure and how the party manages its internal affairs (this may include procedures for winding up the party)

  • the procedure for selecting and removing office bearers

  • the names of the officers or members of the party responsible for ensuring the party complies with the Electoral Funding Act 2018.

A current copy of the party’s constitution must be provided as part of an application for registration. If the constitution is updated, parties must provide a copy to the NSW Electoral Commission and complete the form Application to amend the party register(s).

The constitution of the party that is provided with an application for registration should be consistent with the party’s constitution as an incorporated association, corporation or unincorporated entity (as applicable). 

If the party is registered, the constitution will be published on the NSW Electoral Commission’s website.

Declaration of party membership for a sufficient number of members

A party must have a minimum of 750 members to be eligible to be registered for state elections, or a minimum of 100 members to be eligible to be registered for local government elections.

Party members who are relied upon to meet minimum membership requirements must be enrolled to vote in New South Wales, meaning they are:

  • at least 16 years old, an Australian citizen, and have lived at their present address for at least one month or

  • a British subject who is not an Australian citizen but who was enrolled to vote on 25 January 1984 and who has lived at their current address for at least one month.

A member cannot be relied upon by more than one party for the purpose of registration. To avoid slowing down the registration process, it is recommended that a party seeking registration should not rely on a member that is also relied upon for registration by another party.

It is a matter for each party to determine whether the party’s members must be paid members.

Each party member that is relied on by a party for registration must complete a Declaration of party membership form.

Parties preparing to apply to be registered must:

  • ensure they have more than the minimum required number of Declarations of party membership in the event some members cannot be relied on (for example, a member may not be enrolled to vote in New South Wales, or may be relied upon for registration by another party)

  • understand that if the party becomes registered the declarations of party membership for all members relied upon by the party are made available for public inspection.

Confirm the party has the appropriate office bearers

A party must have certain office bearers to be registered. These are:

  • a secretary

  • a registered officer

  • a deputy registered officer.

Each of these roles must be fulfilled by separate people. This is because the deputy registered officer or secretary will need to amend the register by replacing the registered officer if the registered officer dies or is unavailable.

It is a matter for each party to select the office bearers in accordance with its constitution.

Each party (whether or not a registered party) must appoint a party agent who is responsible for the disclosure of the party’s political donations and electoral expenditure.

The party agent must be a senior office holder of the party. Appoint a party agent using Funding and Disclosure Online. A party agent can accept or decline the appointment online and complete the required agent training if they are not exempt.

Secretary

The secretary of the party is the person the NSW Electoral Commissioner will correspond with about the party’s application for registration. The secretary of the party is responsible for:

  • submitting the party’s application for registration

  • liaising with the NSW Electoral Commissioner during the initial phase of the party’s application for registration

  • making applications to the NSW Electoral Commissioner to change the registered officer of a party (if the registered officer has died or is unavailable and there is no deputy registered officer), and

  • making applications to the NSW Electoral Commissioner of any other change to the registered particulars of the party (if the registered officer has died or is unavailable and there is no deputy registered officer).

Registered officer

The registered officer of the party is the person whose name is included in the Register of Parties and/or the Local Government Register of Political Parties. Once the party is registered, the NSW Electoral Commissioner will address all correspondence in relation to a party’s registration to the registered officer.

The registered officer is responsible for:

  • making applications on behalf of the party to amend the registered details of the party

  • submitting an annual return between 1 June and 30 June each year to confirm the party’s continued eligibility to be registered

  • requesting the NSW Electoral Commissioner provide the party with a list of enrolled electors (registered parties for state elections only)

  • requesting the NSW Electoral Commissioner cancel the registration of the party

  • providing to the NSW Electoral Commissioner, on request at any time, a statement setting out the party’s objectives, the party’s procedures for amending its constitution, the rules of membership, a description of the party’s structure, the procedure to select an office bearer and the names of the officers or members responsible for ensuring the party complies with electoral laws

  • nominating the party’s endorsed candidates for election

  • requesting the party’s registered name or abbreviated name be printed on the ballot paper for an election and

  • acting as party agent of the party when the party does not have an appointed party agent (in this case the registered officer will bear the legal responsibility of the party agent).

Deputy registered officer

The registered officer’s responsibilities may be delegated to the deputy registered officer.

The deputy registered officer is responsible for:

  • making applications on behalf of the party to amend the registered details of the party (if the registered officer has died or is unavailable)

  • nominating the party’s endorsed candidates for election and

  • requesting the party’s registered name or abbreviated name be printed on the ballot paper for an election.

Registration process

Once a party has determined that it is ready to make an application for registration, it can begin the registration process.

Registration steps

  1. Party name assessment

    The party contacts the NSW Electoral Commission about whether the party’s name meets the relevant legislative requirements.

  2. Application lodgement

    Once the party has lodged the application, the NSW Electoral Commission will conduct an initial assessment to confirm that all the required documents and forms have been received.

  3. Party membership assessment

    The NSW Electoral Commission checks the details for each Declaration of Party Membership form against the New South Wales enrolment information.

  4. Survey process

    The NSW Electoral Commission contacts the members listed by the party in order to confirm that they are party members and check that those members have not been relied upon for registration by another party.

  5. Public consultation period

    The NSW Electoral Commissioner publishes a notice in the print media and online indicating that the application has been received, and requests any objections to be lodged within 14 days.

  6. NSW Electoral Commissioner’s determination and registration

    The NSW Electoral Commissioner considers the application and determines whether to register a party. If successful, the party’s details are included in the register and, in 12 months, the entitlements resulting from registration become available.

Public access to registers

The registers of parties are made available for public inspection to promote transparency about registered parties in New South Wales. 

The full list of registered parties is published on our website. This includes the registered details of each party including the party name, abbreviation, registered officer and deputy registered officer, address and a copy of the party’s written constitution.

The complete registers are available to view by appointment at the NSW Electoral Commission’s office. The complete registers contain all information required for registration including the declarations of party membership for each party member relied upon for registration and applications for amendment to the register. 

No similar information about unregistered political parties is recorded or published by the NSW Electoral Commission.

The NSW Electoral Commissioner publishes public notices in relation to applications for registration of a party and applications for amendment to the Register.

The NSW Electoral Commissioner also publishes the approvals of forms to be used by parties that are applying for registration, for amending the registers and for annual continued registration.