The Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 has now been passed by the Parliament ensuring voters will know exactly who is behind political messages that could influence their vote.

These reforms bring Australia’s longstanding authorisations requirements to contemporary forms of communications, like robocalls and mass SMS-messages.

This legislation will come into effect six months after Royal Assent to give the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) the opportunity to provide education and advice to impacted individuals and groups.

The changes mean all paid electoral advertising will require an authorisation, regardless of the medium used to communicate it. The AEC has been given additional powers to enforce compliance and to provide clear instructions on how to authorise communications across various media.

Authorisation requirements have also been extended to electoral communications made by all disclosure entities currently regulated by the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. These include candidates, political parties and the associated entities of parties such as fundraising groups, as well as donors and campaign or activist groups whose political expenditure exceeds $13,500 per year.

A bipartisan interim report into the authorisation of voter communication by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters recommended changes after noting that the current authorisations laws were not appropriate in the modern context.