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Political party and political activity exemptions

Registered political parties are exempt from the obligations of the Australian Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988. As well, any acts or practices involving the handling of personal information in relation to the political activities of members of parliament are also exempt.

Exempt political activities are acts or practices carried out in connection with:

  • an election under an electoral law
  • the participation of a political representative in another aspect of the political process.
  • a referendum under a law of the Commonwealth or a law of a State or Territory

The activities of contractors and volunteers for registered political parties or members of parliament are also exempt where those activities involve an exempt political activity.

Read more about who has rights and responsibilities under the Privacy Act

Use of the electoral roll, postal voting and political advertising material

Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the electoral roll (including details such as name, address, date of birth, gender) may be supplied to members of parliament and registered political parties. They can then use that information along with other personal information they may have collected to send you postal voting applications and other political messaging.

Note that postal vote ballot papers and the envelope with the declaration on the back sent to you by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) can be returned, fully completed, to the AEC inside an outer envelope of your own. This outer envelope should be addressed to the reply paid address printed on the postal vote envelope. It will not require a postage stamp if posted within Australia.

The Australian Electoral Commission has a comprehensive series of FAQs on these topics.

Non-commercial calls, emails or SMS are not required to comply with the obligations under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 and the Spam Act 2003. As well, messages from registered political parties are exempt from most spam and telemarketing rules.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has more information about political telemarketing and spam.