Part 9 of the Electoral Act 2004 (the Act) allows a political party, meeting certain criteria, to apply for registration on the register of political parties in the Northern Territory. Registration is not compulsory for participation in the electoral process, but unregistered parties do not qualify for the benefits obtained by registration such as the inclusion of party names on ballot papers.
The Act defines a political party as ‘an organisation (whether incorporated or unincorporated) an object or activity of which is the promotion of the election to the Legislative Assembly of a candidate or candidates endorsed by it’.
The party's name, for a registered party, means the name under which the party is registered.
The Act requires certain criteria to be met for a political party to be eligible for registration on the NT register of political parties. The party must:
- have a constitution, and
- be registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 or have at least 200 members who are on the electoral roll for an address in the Northern Territory.
An application for registration as a political party must be made by the party secretary in writing on the form approved by the Commission. The application, accompanied by a fee of $500 and a copy of the party's constitution, must show the name and postal address of the proposed registered officer of the party. The registered officer is the person who can sign nomination forms for the party's endorsed candidates and is the NTEC’s main contact person for the party.
If the party is not registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, the application must also be accompanied by the names and postal addresses of at least 200 members of the party.
The list of members is provided ‘in confidence’ to the Commission; no details relating to any party member (other than the secretary and registered officer detailed on the application) are part of the public record.
In order to be satisfied that the party meets the membership criteria, the names on the list are checked against the electoral roll to ensure that at least 200 are registered electors. The Commission writes to those members who are enrolled and asks them to provide written confirmation to confirm their party membership in writing.
Processing an application for registration is undertaken as quickly as possible. A party applying under the 200 members criterion should allow up to six weeks for processing to be completed. The time will be considerably less for a party with federal registration.
NOTE: Section 156 of the Act states that no political party may apply for registration in the Northern Territory less than six months out from a general NT Legislative Assembly election.