Funding for independent elected members

Victoria's Electoral Act 2002 provides for administrative expenditure funding for independent elected members of the Legislative Council (Upper House) and Legislative Assembly (Lower House). Being independent means that you do not represent or belong to any political party.

What is administrative expenditure funding?

Administrative expenditure funding is public money administered by the VEC for registered political parties (RPPs) with Parliamentary representation as well as independent elected members. Independent elected members can use the funding for administrative expenses, including expenses incurred to comply with their funding and disclosure obligations.

Administrative expenditure funding must not be paid into any State campaign account(s) or be used for political expenditure or electoral expenditure.

When is an independent elected member eligible for administrative expenditure funding?

Independent elected members are eligible to receive administrative expenditure funding because they are elected members elected members and independent.

If an independent elected member ceases to be independent or leaves their elected office, they will no longer be eligible to receive administrative expenditure funding. For more information on changes to eligibility, see What if an independent elected member becomes a member of an RPP during a term of Parliament? and What if an independent elected member ceases to be an elected member during a quarter?

When is an independent elected member entitled to administrative expenditure funding?

An independent elected member is entitled to administrative expenditure funding once they, or their appointed agent (if applicable), submit an application in writing to the VEC Funding and Disclosure Unit. We will provide the application form to eligible independent elected members.

The application must include:

  • an acknowledgement that any unused administrative expenditure funding must be repaid to the VEC
  • an acknowledgement that administrative expenditure funding:
    • cannot be paid into any State campaign account(s)
    • cannot be used for political or electoral expenditure
    • cannot be used for expenditure covered by an elected member's parliamentary allowance(s).

Applications for administrative expenditure funding must be made before 1 July of the year in which a State general election is scheduled. The application must include the acknowledgements above and a statement that the independent elected member intends to contest the next State election.

To maintain an entitlement, an independent elected member or their appointed agent must submit an administrative expenditure funding return at the end of each year they receive this funding. More information is provided below under Do independent elected members need to provide an administrative expenditure return?

How much administrative expenditure funding does an independent elected member receive?

We calculate the entitlement amount for independent elected members based on a daily, pro-rata basis from amounts indexed annually according to the Consumer Price Index. To view the current amounts, visit the Indexation page. The entitlement starts on the day the independent elected member is elected.

How and when do independent elected members apply for administrative expenditure funding each year?

The following table shows when an independent elected member can apply for administrative expenditure funding, depending on their circumstances.

Circumstances

When to apply for funding

A new election period

As soon as possible after the start of the new election period, but before 31 December of the election year.

Funding for the period of 1 July to election day in an election year*

Before 1 July.

An endorsed elected member becomes an independent elected member

When the elected member ceases to be a member of the RPP

*Applications for funding can only be made for independent elected members that intend to contest the next State election. If an independent elected member applies for funding but does not stand at the next State election, they must repay the amount.

Independent elected members or their appointed agent must apply for administrative expenditure funding in writing to VEC Funding and Disclosure Unit.

What happens if an independent elected member does not submit their application by the deadline?

If an independent elected member does not apply for administrative expenditure funding before the day the funding is to be paid, it will not affect their entitlement to the funding. We will be unable to make the payment until the request is correctly made to us.

Do independent elected members need to provide an administrative expenditure return?

Anyone who receives administrative expenditure funding during a calendar year must provide a return in relation to administrative expenses for that year.

Independent elected members or their appointed agent must submit an administrative expenditure return in writing to VEC Funding and Disclosure Unit. within 16 weeks of the end of the calendar year.

Download a return form

The return must specify the amount the independent elected member spent on administrative expenses and whether this is equal, less or more than the funding entitlement received during the year.

The return must include:

  • a declaration from the independent elected member or their appointed agent that the return is true and correct
  • a certificate of audit from an independent auditor advising that the return has been audited in line with Australian Accounting Standards as specified in section 334(1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

The audit certificate must state that the auditor:

  1. was given full and free access at all reasonable times to all accounts, records, documents and papers relating directly or indirectly to any matter required to be specified in the statement
  2. examined the material referred to in paragraph 1 for the purpose of giving the certificate
  3. received all information and explanations that the auditor requested in respect of any matter required to be specified in the statement
    and
  4. has no reason to believe that any matter stated in the statement is not correct.

The independent auditor can use this audit certificate template (PDF).

There is a penalty of 300 penalty units or two years' imprisonment for making a false or misleading statement in a return.

What happens if an independent elected member does not submit their administrative expenditure return by the deadline?

An independent elected member or their appointed agent must provide an administrative expenditure return to us within 16 weeks of the end of the calendar year. If they fail to do so, the independent elected member will be taken to have not incurred any administrative expenditure for that calendar year and must repay the total administrative expenditure funding amount they received for the year.

What if an independent elected member has spent less on administrative expenses than it received?

If the administrative expenditure return shows the independent elected member spent less on administrative expenses than they received during the year, they will be required to repay the balance. Where applicable, the independent elected member may be issued an invoice for the difference or may have their next administrative expenditure funding payment reduced.

How and when does the VEC make administrative expenditure payments?

We pay administrative expenditure funding quarterly in advance, before the end of each quarter. For example, for the January-March quarter, payment will be made by the end of the October-December quarter.

What happens to advance administrative expenditure payments when there is an election?

We make advance payments from the beginning of the quarter through to the day of the election.

If an independent elected member is re-elected at a State general election, then in the following January, we will:

  • pay the independent elected member for the first quarter of that calendar year (January to March)
    and
  • pay retrospectively from the day after the election until the end of previous quarter (31 December).

What if an elected member endorsed by an RPP becomes an independent elected member during a term of Parliament?

In some cases, an elected member who was endorsed by an RPP may become an independent elected member during a term of Parliament. In this case, the independent elected member or their appointed agent must submit an application for administrative expenditure funding if they wish to access this funding.

The administrative expenditure funding is only payable from the date the elected member became an independent elected member. There are no retrospective payments for the period they were an elected member endorsed by an RPP.

What if an independent elected member becomes a member of an RPP during a term of Parliament?

If an independent elected member becomes a member of an RPP during a term of Parliament, the independent elected member or their appointed agent must let us know that they ceased to be independent within 28 days.

They are not entitled to administrative expenditure funding for each day in the quarter that they were not an independent elected member. This may mean they received an overpayment for the quarter and will have to repay the amount received in funding for each day that they were not an independent elected member.

What if an independent elected member ceases to be an elected member during a quarter?

If an independent elected member ceases being an elected member, they must repay any amounts received in advance for that quarter. Administrative expenditure funding is calculated on a pro-rata basis and they will be entitled to the funding received in the quarter for the days they were an independent elected member of the Victorian Parliament. They will receive no further payments and must complete an administrative expenditure return within 16 weeks of the end of the calendar year for the period they were an independent elected member.

What if an independent elected member intends to recontest in a different house of Parliament?

An independent elected member who intends to contest the next election in a different seat, is still eligible to receive administrative expenditure funding on a daily, pro-rata basis for the election period at the same rate they currently receive.

Use of administrative expenditure

Administrative expenditure funding can be used for costs associated with the general running of an independent elected member's office. This could include:

  • office accommodation for standard operations*
  • staff employed for standard operations*
  • equipment for standard operations* (e.g. IT systems, vehicles, office stationery, etc.)
  • interest charges on loans for standard operations*
  • utilities for standard operations*
  • travel related to standard operations*
  • advertising related to standard operations*
  • staff employed to set-up/manage obligations in relation to funding and disclosure laws (including production of returns)
  • costs incurred to set-up and manage obligations in relation to funding and disclosure laws (including production of returns)
  • costs incurred in auditing of returns and statements required by funding and disclosure laws.

*Standard operations do not include State election campaigning.

For more information, visit Determinations.

Administrative expenditure funding cannot be used for costs:

What are the penalties associated with administrative expenditure funding?

If an independent elected member or their appointed agent pays any amount of their administrative expenditure funding payments into any State campaign account(s), they are liable for a penalty equal to twice the amount paid into the account.

Similarly, an independent elected member or their appointed agent is liable for a penalty equal to twice the amount of an administrative expenditure funding payment if they use the payment for:

  • political expenditure
  • electoral expenditure
  • expenditure for which an elected member has claimed a parliamentary allowance.

They must pay the penalty to us or, if applicable, have it deducted from future payments of administrative expenditure funding.

There is also a penalty of 300 penalty units or two years' imprisonment for making a false or misleading statement in a return.

Are administrative expenditure entitlements or calendar returns published?

There are no obligations under the Act to publish administrative expenditure funding entitlements or calendar returns. However, we will publish aggregated funding amounts as part of our regular reporting, including in our annual report.

Publication of the end of financial year annual returns and donation disclosures is required by the Act. For more information refer to VEC Disclosures.