You can share your political opinions at any time – that is part of a healthy democracy.
If you are sharing something that is considered 'electoral campaign material', you must authorise it. We'll explore what these terms mean, and give examples of what is and isn't considered electoral campaign material.
Authorisation requirements apply to everyone – not just political parties, members of Parliament or candidates. They exist to:
- enhance transparency by allowing everyone to know the origins of the electoral campaign material
- allow someone to decide for themselves how much they value or trust the electoral campaign material.
Electoral campaign material
Something can be considered 'electoral campaign material' if it is an advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or notice that contains electoral matter. It may appear in print, digitally or online.
Electoral matter is something that is intended or likely to affect the way someone votes in an election.
Electoral campaign material can take many forms, including:
- a pamphlet, flyer, handbill or notice
- a billboard, poster or sign
- a how-to-vote card
- any paid or unpaid print, digital or online advertisement
- a social media post or profile
- a website
- some electronic communications, such as email or SMS.
Not everything is considered electoral campaign material and some things don't need an authorisation statement. Examples include:
- small car stickers, badges, clothing, fridge magnets, pens, pencils and balloons
- letters, cards, and media releases where the name and address of the sender or publisher appears, unless they contain a representation of a ballot paper
- images of exempt items, unless transformed into electoral campaign material
- material made for academic, artistic, educational or satirical purposes that is not intended or likely to affect voting in an election.
To authorise something is to include a name and address somewhere visible on the electoral campaign material – that's what forms the 'authorisation statement'. For printed material, it must also include the printer's name and place of business.
It doesn't matter if there is an election happening or not, electoral campaign material must always be authorised.
The name that appears in the authorisation statement has to be the full name of a person, political party, group or organisation.
For a person, this could be a name they are generally known by, as long as they can be easily identified. Some acceptable examples are:
Acceptable Birth name Name appearing in authorisation Yes John Citizen John Citizen Yes John Citizen J Citizen Yes Joanne Victoria Citizen Jo Citizen No John Citizen @voteforthem (i.e. a username that is not the person's real name)
An address should be the usual address of the person, political party, group or organisation. It should include the street number, street name, suburb or town, and state.
It does not have to be a residential address – it could be the business or office address that they have regular access to. A PO Box is not acceptable.
An authorisation statement must be prominent and legible. It shouldn't be hard to find or difficult to read.
The authorisation statement should:
- be clearly visible
- be positioned on a plain background
- be large enough so that it can be read from the same distance as the rest of the material
- not fade, run or rub off.
Authorisation statements must always be in English as well as any other language used in the electoral campaign material.
Additional requirements for printed material
For any printed electoral campaign material, the printer's business name and place of business must also appear in the authorisation statement. The business address should include the street number, street name, suburb or town, and state. A PO Box is not acceptable.
This requirement applies to all printed electoral campaign material except newspaper advertisements.
Authorising social media content
Electoral campaign material published on any social media platform must be authorised.
The authorisation can be made in a number of ways. Examples include:
- having an authorisation statement in the social media account's bio or profile information
- pinning a post with the authorisation statement to the top of the profile
- having a link in the post to a website containing the authorisation statement.
Not everything on social media is considered electoral campaign material and some things don't need an authorisation statement. Examples include:
- a social media post not containing a paid or unpaid electoral advertisement
- an image of an exempt item, unless it's been transformed into electoral campaign material
- shares and retweets of authorised electoral campaign material, unless it's shared in a way that separates the content from its original authorisation, or the material has been altered or remixed.
These authorisation examples can be used as templates:
- 'Authorised by [Firstname Lastname], [Street number Street name, Town/Suburb, State].'
- 'Authorised by [F. Lastname], [Street number Street name, Town/Suburb, State].'
- 'Authorised by [Firstname Lastname], [Street number Street name, Town/Suburb, State]. Printed/published by [Printer business name], [Street number Street name, Town/Suburb, State].'
This booklet provides visual examples of what proper authorisation of electoral campaign material may look like in practice.
We investigate formal complaints about the proper authorisation of electoral campaign material.
We are guided by the determination on authorising electoral campaign material made by Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately, AM on Friday 12 August.
If we receive a formal complaint about electoral campaign material, the first step we take is to help the publisher to understand and comply with their legislative obligations.
If necessary, we will then consider alternatives to taking legal action, such as issuing a formal caution.
It is the publisher's responsibility to authorise electoral campaign material before it is printed, published or distributed. We do not approve or authorise electoral campaign material.
All electoral campaign material that appears on television and radio is regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. We are not responsible for enforcing authorisation requirements of television and radio.
If you have seen electoral campaign material that is not properly authorised, you can report it to us by making a complaint that the Electoral Act 2002 has been breached.