Candidates - Legislative Assembly elections | NTEC

Candidates - Legislative Assembly elections

Candidates standing in a Northern Territory Legislative Assembly election must lodge a completed nomination form after the close of the electoral roll and before the close of nominations.

Independent candidates (not endorsed by a registered political party) must ensure they lodge their own nomination form by the deadline. Candidates endorsed by a political party may have the form lodged by the registered officer of the political party.

The writ is issued 24 days before election day, the electoral roll closes one day after the writ is issued and nominations close at 12:00 noon seven days after the writ is issued. The declaration of nominations takes place soon after nominations close. If more candidates are nominated than there are vacancies, the draw for positions on ballot papers then takes place.

Campaign advertising and authorisation

Candidates, political parties, commentators, publishers, broadcasters and the media are advised to familiarise themselves with the electoral offences listed in the Electoral Act 2004 (the Act).

The information provided about campaigning and advertising offences is a guide only. Alleged offences under the Act are assessed on a case-by-case basis and, ultimately, it is for the courts to decide in any particular case. Accordingly, if you are in doubt about the interpretation of the law in particular circumstances, you should seek independent legal advice.

Authorisation

All campaign material or electoral matter, both printed and in electronic format, must clearly state in a sufficient font size to be read by the intended audience:

  • the name and address of the person authorising the publication or distribution (a post office box is not permitted)
  • if printed, the name and address of the printing company stated at the end
  • if the material is intended to be viewed from two sides, the above-mentioned authorisations must appear on both sides
  • the source of the funding for that material, whether an associated entity, candidate, political party, third-party campaigner or otherwise.

A person must not publish or distribute any campaign material that is likely to:

  • mislead an elector
  • deceive an elector
  • improperly interfere with an elector casting a vote
  • contain an untrue or incorrect statement

What is campaign material or electoral matter?

Campaign material or electoral matter includes any advertisement or document intended to promote the electoral prospects of candidates for an election, including:

  • an electoral advertisement
  • a printed document such as a handbill, pamphlet, how-to-vote card, poster or sign
  • a message containing electoral matter that is sent by telephone or broadcast by electronic means
  • published material containing electoral matter
  • car stickers or decals.

Letters to the editor of a newspaper, if published, require the name and address of the author.

An address of the author means:

  • if the author is the registered officer of a registered political party - the party's address
  • if the author is the proprietor of a newspaper or an employee of the proprietor of a newspaper - the proprietors business address
  • otherwise - the street name and locality of the authors residence

What electoral matter does not need to include an authorisation statement?

The requirement to authorise campaign material or electoral matter does not apply to any of the following items; unless the item includes the representation of a ballot paper:

  • T-shirt, button, badge, pen, pencil or balloon
  • a business or visiting card that promotes the candidacy of a person in an election
  • a letter or card on which the name of the sender appears
  • a letter or media release published by or on behalf of a candidate

Internet, radio and television advertising

All internet (including social media), radio and television advertisements must carry official authorisation tags.

Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 requires that political matter broadcast must include:

- if the broadcasting was authorised by a political party:

  • the name of the political party
  • the town, city or suburb in which the principal office of the political party is situated, and
  • the name of the natural person responsible for giving effect to the authorisation.

- if the broadcasting was authorised by a person other than a political party:

  • the name of the person who authorised the broadcasting of the political matter, and
  • the town, city or suburb in which the person lives or, if the person is a corporation or association, in which the principal office of the person is situated.

- the name of every speaker who, either in person or by means of a sound recording device, delivers an address or makes a statement that forms part of that matter.

The required particulars must be broadcast in the same language as the political matter.

Social media

The Electoral Commission takes a common-sense approach to advertising on social media. Where a candidate is advertising and commenting on their own social media account, they have clearly authorised the use of that material. However, if electoral matter appears on a social media feed other than the candidates, this must be clearly authorised.

Blackout period

Clause 3A, Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 requires that a broadcaster must not broadcast an election advertisement from the end of the Wednesday before election day until the close of voting on election day.

The election advertising blackout applies to broadcasters, including:

  • commercial television broadcasting licensees
  • commercial radio broadcasting licensees
  • community broadcasting licensees
  • subscription television broadcasting licensees
  • providers of broadcasting services under class licences.

The election advertising blackout only applies to broadcasters. It does not include non-broadcasting platforms, for example printed material, online streaming and on-demand services, including when such platforms are operated by licensed broadcasters.

Review of election advertisements prior to broadcast by commercial television stations

ClearAds reviews election advertisements prior to broadcast by commercial television stations for the purpose of:

  • classifying the advertisement under the commercial television industry code of practice
  • ensuring the advertisement includes the authorisation tag required by the Broadcasting Services Act and complies with other requirements on broadcasters under applicable electoral acts (Commonwealth, State or Territory)
  • protecting broadcasters from liability for publishing defamatory material.

More information can be found via the following links:

Newspaper advertising

A newspaper means a newspaper published or distributed in the Northern Territory.

Advertisement means:

  • an article or paragraph containing electoral matter
  • a report of a speech of a candidate in an election.

Letters to the editor of a newspaper, if published, require the name and address of the author.

Heading of advertisements

Section 272Electoral Act 2004

The proprietor of the newspaper must ensure the word 'advertisement' is printed as a headline, in letters not smaller than 10 point, to the advertisement.

Electoral articles to be signed or state particulars of author

Section 273Electoral Act 2004

A person must not distribute a circular, pamphlet or handbill containing an electoral article unless:

  • the article is signed by the author
  • the true name and address of the author is stated at the end of the article.

The proprietor of a newspaper must ensure an electoral article published in the newspaper contains the true name and address of the author at the end of the article.

Electoral article means an article, report, letter or other matter, or part of an article, report, letter or other matter, commenting on a candidate or political party or the issues being submitted to, or otherwise before, the electors at an election.

Exemptions for distribution of electoral articles

Section 274Electoral Act 2004

Unless the electoral article includes the representation of a ballot paper, an exemption to sign or state the particulars of the author apply on the following items:

  • a letter from an MLA that includes the name of the MLA and an indication that the person is an MLA
  • a press release published by, or for, an MLA that includes the name of the MLA and an indication that the person is an MLA
  • an annual report required under an Act or another publication of an Agency
  • a business or visiting card that promotes the candidacy of a person in an election.

MLA means a member of the Legislative Assembly.

In this section, publication of an Agency does not include a publication that is published for the first time within six months immediately before a general election if the publication includes a picture of an MLA.

Download the information sheet via the following link:

Campaign activities near voting centres

A person must not engage in a campaign activity during voting hours within 100 metres of the entrance of an election day voting centre, including airspace.

Campaign activity means:

  • canvassing for votes
  • soliciting the vote of a person
  • inducing a person not to vote for a particular candidate
  • inducing a person not to vote at the election
  • exhibiting a notice or sign relating to the election
  • using a loud speaker, public address system or any other tool to enhance the volume of a sound to broadcast matter that is audible.

A person must not wear or display a badge, emblem, t-shirt, poster or other thing associated with a political party or candidate in a voting centre.

Please note that a 10 metre prohibition zone applies to early voting centres and mobile voting centres and locations.

Download the information sheets via the following links:

Designated campaign area

The commission may assign an area within the prohibition zone where limited campaign activity is allowed. Each registered candidate will be allowed up to three campaign workers in the designated area and each person must complete the relevant appointment form.

A person engaged to represent a candidate in the designated campaign area will be able to conduct the following:

  • Canvass for votes
  • Solicit the vote of a person
  • Hand out how-to-vote cards

A designated campaign area must be:

  • accessible to voters; and
  • avoidable by voters who do not wish to engage with campaigners.

The commission will provide written notice to all candidates of the designated campaign area as soon as practicable after it is confirmed. If there is any doubt about an exclusion zone or designated area, campaigners should confer with the officer-in-charge of the voting centre.

Code of conduct

The code of conduct requirements for candidates, campaign workers and scrutineers are to be read in conjunction with the electoral offences outlined in section 295 of the Electoral Act 2004.

The following additional conditions stipulate the behaviour expected at all voting centres and must be observed by all persons undertaking campaigning activities.

Candidates, campaign workers and scrutineers must not:

  • use language that provokes violence towards other candidate or political party campaign workers or members of the public
  • intimidate candidates or voters
  • enter the prohibition zone set by the officer in charge of the voting centre unless duly appointed
  • publish or display false information about other candidates or political parties
  • plagiarise any other candidate or political party name, acronym or symbol
  • offer any inducement or reward to a person to vote for a candidate or party
  • destroy, remove or deface posters belonging to other candidates or political parties

A person who does not comply with these conditions may be removed from the voting centre by the officer-in-charge or by the police.

Penalties may apply.

Download a copy of the code of conduct via the following link:

Placement of signage

Candidates and political parties are encouraged to check signage policies and by-laws of their local council, Department of Infrastructure, and Power and Water Corporation when determining where to place campaign material.

The following links provide information on signage guidelines and codes:

Financial disclosure

Part 10 of the Electoral Act 2004 requires candidates, registered political parties and their associated entities, and certain donors to disclose information to the Northern Territory Electoral Commission regarding political contributions and electoral expenditure above certain thresholds.

The reporting thresholds for the Northern Territory are lower than under Commonwealth legislation.

More information can be found on our financial disclosure pages via the following link:

Nominating

Deposit

Candidates must submit, at the time of nomination, a deposit which shall be retained until the result of the election is known. The deposit of $500 can be in cash or by electronic transfer. A personal cheque is not acceptable.

A candidate is entitled to have their deposit returned in full if he or she:

  • is returned as elected
  • obtains a total number of first preference votes which is more than one-fifth of the total of the first preference votes received by the elected candidate
  • withdraws their consent to nomination before 12:00 noon on the day nominations close.

Eligibility

A person is, unless disqualified, eligible to be a candidate for election as a member of the Legislative Assembly if, at the date of nomination:

  • he or she is an Australian citizen
  • he or she has attained the age of 18 years
  • he or she is entitled, or qualified to become entitled, to vote at elections of members of the Legislative Assembly
  • he or she has been a resident within the Commonwealth for at least six months and within the Territory for at least three months

Form

Nominations can only be lodged after the issue of the writ and before 12:00 noon on the day nominations close.

A nomination form, deposit and photo may be lodged at a Northern Territory Electoral Commission office during business hours or emailed to the following address:

If completed nomination forms are emailed, you can also include your photo in jpeg or png format; however, you must remember to forward the endorsement stating your full name and a statement certifying that the photograph was taken within six months before lodgement. Arrangements to pay your nomination fee can be made by calling 1800 698 683.

Nominees are strongly advised to confirm receipt of a nomination if not delivered in person.

Nominators

A candidate can be nominated by:

  • six electors entitled to vote at the election in the division the candidate wishes to contest; or
  • the registered officer of a registered political party.

Photograph

Regulation 3 of the Electoral Regulations 2004 provides that a nominee's photograph shall:

(a) be a black and white, full faced vertical portrait of the nominee's head and shoulders

(b) have been taken within six months before lodgement of the nominee's nomination

(c) have endorsed on the reverse side, the nominee's full name and a statement signed by the nominee certifying that the photograph was taken within six months before lodgement.

The Electoral Commissioner may, at his discretion, accept a photograph which does not comply with the prescribed requirements. Photos may be lodged electronically in image format. If lodged electronically, ensure that a copy of the statement verifying that the photo has been taken within the last six months is included in material sent and check that the photo has been received.

Withdrawal of nomination

A candidate may withdraw from election by giving notice, in writing, on the approved form. The withdrawal must be given to the Commission before 12:00 noon on the day nominations close.

Qualifications for election (includes disqualification)

Candidates must be qualified for election as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in accordance with Part III, Division 2, section 20 of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978.

Qualifications for election

A person is, unless disqualified, eligible to be a candidate for election as a member of the Legislative Assembly if, at the date of nomination:

  • he or she is an Australian citizen
  • he or she has attained the age of 18 years
  • he or she is entitled, or qualified to become entitled, to vote at elections of members of the Legislative Assembly
  • he or she has been a resident within the Commonwealth for at least 6 months and within the Territory for at least 3 months

Disqualifications for membership of Legislative Assembly

In accordance with Part III, Division 2, section 21 of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act, a person is not qualified to be a candidate for election as a member of the Legislative Assembly if, at the date of nomination:

  • he or she
    • holds an office or appointment (other than a prescribed office or appointment) under the law of the Commonwealth or a law of a State or Territory, or
    • not being the holder of any office or appointment under such a law, is employed by the Commonwealth, by a State or Territory or by a body corporate established for a public purpose by such a law
    and he or she is entitled to any remuneration or allowance (other than reimbursement of expenses reasonably incurred) in respect to that office, appointment or employment
  • he or she is an undischarged bankrupt, or
  • he or she has been convicted and is under sentence of imprisonment for one year or longer for an offence against the law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory

Scrutineers

A candidate may appoint a scrutineer to represent them during the voting or scrutiny or both.

The appointment is made by giving notice in the approved form to the officer-in-charge of the voting or counting centre.

Presence at a voting centre

  • A scrutineer representing a candidate is entitled to be present at a voting centre, and to enter or leave the centre, when voters are in attendance.
  • However, only one scrutineer representing a particular candidate may enter or remain at a voting centre at any time while voters are in attendance.

Presence at a counting centre

  • A scrutineer representing a candidate is entitled to be present at a counting centre, and to enter or leave the centre, during the conduct of the count.
  • However, only one scrutineer representing a particular candidate may enter or remain at a counting centre at any time while the count is conducted. If there is more than one counting table for the division at the centre, the candidate is entitled to be represented by a scrutineer at each table.

A scrutineer who fails to comply with these rules is no longer entitled to be at the voting centre or counting centre.