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Local Government Elections 2018


Major changes to election campaigning limits - further changes were announced on 2 August. Below is an outline of these changes.

Changes to expenditure limits and the electoral advertising return

Changes to the Local Government (General) Regulations 2015

The Government recently made amendments to the Local Government (General) Regulations 2015, with changes coming into effect on 1 August 2018 and it is expected further amendments will come into effect on 8 August 2018.

The election related changes to the Regulations are:

  • The previous limits on the size and number of posters/signs have been removed.
    Posters/signs still need to comply with the relevant local council planning scheme.
  • The previous advertising limits on radio and television time and newspaper space have been removed.
  • New reporting requirements that include all forms of advertising costs.
  • The new expenditure limits are expected to be:
    • $16 000 for all candidates contesting an election for Clarence City, Glenorchy City, Hobart City, Launceston City or Kingborough.
    • $10 000 for all other candidates contesting an election for any other Tasmanian local government council.
  • All electoral advertising used during the relevant period is to be included in the expenditure limit.
    Previously, the limit only included purchased newspaper, television and radio advertising.
The relevant period for the 2018 local government elections is 9 August to 30 October.
As the expenditure limit relates to the cost incurred, these limits are inclusive of GST.

All electoral advertising expenditure must be declared

The new Regulation 22A(1)(a) provides that the total expenditure on electoral advertising by, or on behalf of, a candidate during the relevant period must not exceed the sum of:

  • $16 000 for all candidates contesting an election for Clarence City, Glenorchy City, Hobart City, Launceston City or Kingborough.
  • $10 000 for all other candidates contesting an election for any other Tasmanian local government council.

This means every candidate must now declare the costs incurred for all electoral advertising used during the relevant period, including costs incurred prior to 9 August for electoral advertising used on or after 9 August 2018.

Electoral advertising is defined in section 3 of the Local Government Act 1993 to include:

  • any notice, sign or poster;
  • any pamphlet or handbill;
  • any “how-to-vote” card;
  • any print medium;
  • any broadcast by radio or TV;
  • advertising on the internet.

Candidates are required to declare their costs of electoral advertising in an “electoral advertising return”. A copy of the return will also be sent to each candidate once his/her nomination has been accepted.

Electoral advertising return (section 279)

All candidates must lodge with the Electoral Commissioner an electoral advertising return within the 45-day period after the certificate of election is issued. Candidates must declare all electoral advertising in their returns, and include all invoices, accounts, receipts.

Candidates must sign the completed return in front of a Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Declarations.

As all expenditure on electoral advertising must be declared, candidates now need to consider costs such as:

  • design costs for printed advertising;
  • materials for erecting signs;
  • stationery and postage costs for mail outs to electors;
  • production costs for newspaper advertising or television advertising;
  • productions costs, and costs of showing online advertising;
  • website development; and
  • printing costs of advertising via business cards, stickers, fliers, balloons etc.

It is an offence not to complete and lodge a return with the Electoral Commissioner. The penalty that may be imposed by a court for this offence is a fine up to 30 penalty units.

Candidates must complete an electoral advertising return, even if no expenditure has been incurred.

Consequences for exceeding the new expenditure limits (section 278)

As stated earlier, Regulation 22A(1) provides the relevant amount for candidates for these elections (expected to be $16,000 or $10,000). Section 278(1) provides that a person must not use electoral advertising during the relevant period otherwise than in accordance with the regulations (this includes the $16,000 or $10,000 limit).

If a candidate exceeds their expenditure limit for electoral advertising used during the relevant period, a court may impose a penalty of a fine up to 100 penalty units.

Further, under section 278(2), if a court convicts a candidate who is successful at an election, the court must declare that candidate’s election void, unless the court is satisfied that that there are special circumstances that make it undesirable or inappropriate for it to make such a declaration.

One penalty unit is currently $163.

If you require further information about the review of the regulations and their subsequent amendments, please call the Government media unit on 6165 7680.

Candidate Information Booklet

Following the recent announcement of expenditure limit changes, a new Candidate Information Booklet for this election has been produced. If you have a previous version of the Handbook, you’ll note the Election Edition has a different cover to help you identify the current version.

If you would like a hard copy of the Candidate Information Booklet, copies are available from the Tasmanian Electoral Commission (TEC) office, 169 Main Road, Moonah. Alternatively, call the TEC on 1800 801 701 and we will post one to you.

Expenditure Advertising Return Q&A

Some answers to frequently asked questions and important points regarding recent changes to electoral advertising.

      2018 elections 

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