With the next New South Wales state election just six months away – and ICAC scandals seemingly a daily phenomenon – now is the time for businesses to check their knowledge of NSW’s political donations laws.
Laws governing political donations differ between Federal and State, and amongst the States, so it pays to know what you can and can’t do rather than run the risk of a penalty fine, or worse, a media scandal that taints your company’s reputation.
If you are considering making a political donation in NSW in the lead up to the state election next March, it’s worth remembering these six key facts about political donations laws in that state.
If a business has made a reportable donation, there is an obligation on both the donor and the recipient to report that donation to the Election Funding Authority. This involves completing a “Disclosure of Political Donations for a Major Political Donor” form and lodging it with the EFA.
The EFA works on the financial year. If your business has made a donation of more than $1,000 between 1 July and 30 June, then that donation must be disclosed to the EFA between 1 July and 20 October of the next financial year.
A flick through the major daily newspapers demonstrates the reputational risk of being involved in a political donations scandal. Reputational risks aside, failing to comply with political donation laws has other serious consequences
Not lodging a disclosure is an offence under NSW law and carries a maximum fine of $22,000. Even more severe, making a false statement in a disclosure is also punishable by a fine up to $22,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment.
The legal risk associated with political donations can be easily managed by following a couple of key steps:
Making a political donation is a strategic investment for any business. By following good due diligence procedures, businesses can be confident in making donations to parties, candidates and third-party campaigners in the March 2015 NSW state election without risking their good name and reputation.
The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.