Last updated
03 May 2023

The Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 (PBR Act) does not preclude you from using public resources or claiming expenses for activities related to a referendum, subject to meeting your obligations under the PBR Act, including the parliamentary business dominant purpose and value for money tests, and any specific conditions that apply. Your obligations do not apply to your remuneration, including salary, electorate allowance, private plated vehicles, and residential internet and telephone services.

When claiming an expense, allowance or other public resource, you must ensure that you have met all conditions which apply to the resource. These are set by the Parliamentary Business Resources Regulations 2017 (PBR Regulations) and determinations of the Minister. 

The Commonwealth is not liable to pay a claim where you contravene any conditions. 

Relevant conditions for claiming that apply to office expenses under the office budget

While you must ensure that claims you make for office expenses under your office budget meet the conditions for claiming, the following conditions are particularly relevant to referendum-related material.

Material that provides instructions on how to complete a ballot paper

Office expenses must not be used to produce, communicate or distribute material that provides instructions on how to complete a ballot paper, including for a federal, state or territory election and referendums.

Examples of referendum-related phrases that may and may not be included in material produced under the office expenses budget, including in logos or other visuals, are outlined below.


Permitted, subject to obligations

‘Vote Yes’ or ‘Vote No’ 


‘Write Yes’ or ‘Write No’

‘Say Yes’ or ‘Say No’ 


‘Support Yes’ or ‘Support No’

‘Yes’ or ‘No’ 


‘Yes Campaign’ or ‘No Campaign’ 


‘Support the Yes Campaign’ or ‘Support the No Campaign’


‘Vote for the Voice to Parliament’ or ‘Vote against a Voice to Parliament’ 


‘Support the Voice’ or ‘Say No to the Voice’

‘Show your support for the Voice by voting in the referendum’ 

‘Reject the establishment of the Voice’ 

‘Choose to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by approving a Voice to Parliament’ 

‘Leave the Constitution as it is – don’t approve the proposed amendment’ 

‘Get out and vote in the referendum’.

‘Sarah supports the Yes vote’ or ‘Sarah supports the No vote’ 

‘X1 supports the Yes campaign’ or ‘X1 supports the No campaign’ 

‘X1 supports a Yes vote’ or ‘X1 supports a No vote’

‘the community says Yes’ or ‘the city says No’

‘… successful yes vote’ or ‘… successful no vote’

Newsletter/video promotes either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ campaign for a referendum and contains a logo, branding and/or endorsement by a business or commercial enterprise

Newsletter/video promotes either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ campaign for a referendum and contains a logo, branding and/or endorsement by a not-for-profit

‘Volunteer for the Yes Campaign’ or ‘Volunteer for the No Campaign’

‘Sign up to volunteer for Yes/No Campaign’ 

‘Donate to the Yes/No Campaign’, where the recipient is a member

‘Donate to the Yes/No Campaign’, where the recipient is a political party 

‘Donate to the Yes/No Campaign’, where the recipient is pursuing a commercial purpose

‘Donate to the Yes/No Campaign’, where the recipient is a not-for-profit

‘Donate here to support the Voice’ or ‘Donate here to oppose the Voice’, where the recipient is a not-for-profit

Question, ie for a survey: ‘Will you vote Yes or vote No?’ 

Information: ‘For a referendum to be successful, a majority of Australians in a majority of States and Territories must vote yes’

‘X’ represents the name of a political party.

You must also be careful to ensure that visual presentations are not suggestive of completing a ballot paper or providing instruction (e.g. with a visual representation of a pencil, dotted line, box etc. that implies how the ballot paper is to be completed).

Mobile office signage

Signage related to mobile offices, such as at community fairs, markets and exhibitions, is available for the purpose of identifying or directing constituents to the location of the mobile office. This is similar to arrangements that apply to signage for permanent electorate offices.

As a result, you are unable to claim signage that does not meet the required purpose, including signage that contains issues-based material. This condition applies only to mobile office signage and does not apply to any other types of office expenses, including producing and distributing printed or electronic material, which could include leaflets or pamphlets distributed at a mobile office.

Preclusion on soliciting votes for a person or political party

You are unable to claim office expenses that seeks the election or re-election of a person other than you or to solicit a vote for a political party.

For clarity, as a vote in a referendum is not a vote for a natural person or a political party, this condition does not apply.

Prohibition for any commercial purpose

Office expenses must not be used to produce, communicate or distribute any material that includes an advertisement that pursues your commercial purposes or those of another person (including a business).

Contact Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (MaPS) for a pre-claim assessment (see further below) if you intend to produce or distribute material which mentions the name of a for-profit business, includes symbols or logos representing a business, or otherwise identifies a business.

Parliamentarians should be careful not to promote/advertise (or be seen to promote/advertise) for-profit businesses in any way. Any references to for-profit business should be incidental only.

If you contravene an obligation or condition, your claim may be rejected or have to be repaid and may attract a 25% penalty loading. Further information on Accountability and Conditions for claiming is available on the MaPS website.

Optional pre-claim assessment

MaPS provides an optional pre-claim assessment on proposed non-travel related claims to assist you to ensure you meet your obligations under the PBR Act. You are strongly encouraged to use this service for any referendum-related material that you may claim under your office budget.

You may submit printed and electronic material for the pre-claim assessment to Further information on pre-claim assessments, including submission requirements, is available on MaPS’ website.

Alternatively, should you have any additional queries you may contact the MaPS Help Desk on (02) 6215 3333.

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