Candidates - NT Legislative Assembly

Any person wanting to become a candidate for a Legislative Assembly election must lodge a correctly completed nomination form after the close of the electoral roll and before the close of nominations.

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

The writ is issued 20 days before election day, the electoral roll closes two days after the writ is issued and nominations close at 12:00 noon sharp four 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.

The information provided about campaigning and advertising offences is a guide only. Alleged offences under the Electoral Act are assessed on a case-by-case basis and, ultimatley, 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:

  • the name and address of the person authorising the advertisement and
  • if printed, the name and address of the printer

If the material is two-sided, the authorisation and printer details are required on both sides. The use of a post office box is not permitted.

What is campaign material or electoral matter?

Campaign material or electoral matter includes any advertisement or document etc., 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 or poster/sign
  • a message containing electoral matter that is sent by telephone or broadcast by electronic means
  • published material containing electoral matter
  • car stickers/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 (if any) and locality of the authors residence

NOTE: 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 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 NTEC 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 of Schedule 2 to 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 online services and print media.

Review of election advertisements by commercial television stations

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) 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 Service Act 1992 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:

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 272 - Electoral Act)

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 273 - Electoral Act)

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 274 - Electoral Act)

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.

* 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.

More information:

Canvassing for votes near voting centres

Prohibition of canvassing within 100 metres

A person must not do any of the following things within 100 metres of the entrance to a voting centre:

  • place, display or hand out posters
  • exhibit a notice or sign relating to the election
  • distribute pamphlets or erect bunting that contains electoral matter
  • hand out how-to-vote cards
  • solicit the vote of a person
  • induce a person to vote for a particular candidate
  • induce a person to vote at the election
  • use a loud speaker, public address system, amplifier or other thing to broadcast matter that is audible within 100 metre of the entrance of the voting centre

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.

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.

Financial disclosure

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

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

More information: Financial disclosure

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 $200 must be in cash or bank cheque made payable to the Receiver of Territory Monies (RTM). A personal cheque is not acceptable.

A candidate is entitled to have this 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 his or her consent to nomination before 12:00 noon on the day nominations close.

Forms

A nomination form, deposit and photo may be lodged at an NTEC office in Darwin or Alice Springs during business hours. Lodgement can be made after the close of the electoral roll and before 12:00 noon on the day nominations close.

Nominators

A candidate can be nominated by:

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

Photograph

Regulation 3 of the Electoral Regulations 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, e.g. jpg 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 to the Commission before 12:00 noon on the day nominations close.

More information: Candidate handbook

Qualifications for election

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 bee resident within the Commonwealth for at least six months and within the Territory for at least three months

Disqualifications for membership of Legislative Assembly

(1) 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

More information:

Scrutineers

Candidates may appoint scrutineers to observe in the voting centre and be present during the determination of the election results. Scrutineers must complete and present their appointment forms to the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the voting centre or scrutiny centre who will check that the form is properly completed. Scrutineers are required to sign an undertaking that they will not attempt to influence the vote of any elector or disclose knowledge officially acquired concerning the vote of an elector.

More information: Candidate handbook