2About the AEC

We continue to strengthen our focus on electoral integrity, and on understanding and responding to the expectations of the public and the Parliament.

What is the AEC?

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is an independent statutory authority established by the Australian Government to:

Maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services, and targeted education and public awareness programs.

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ELECTORAL DIVISIONS ADMINISTERED

We do this by:

  1. conducting successful electoral events, including federal elections, by-elections and referendums
  2. ensuring confidence in the electoral roll
  3. administering political party registrations and financial disclosure
  4. undertaking public awareness activities.

Associated activities include:

Values and principles

The AEC’s values of electoral integrity through quality, agility and professionalism inform the agency’s strategic planning and day-to-day operations.

The AEC is also guided by the Australian Public Service ICARE values of impartiality, committed to service, accountable, respectful and ethical.

We continue to strengthen our focus on electoral integrity, and on understanding and responding to the expectations of the public and the Parliament.

Outcome and programs

The AEC has one outcome: ‘Maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services and targeted education and public awareness programs’.

Our history

  • We were originally established as a branch of the Department of Home Affairs in 1902.
  • Between 1973 and 1984 we were known as the Australian Electoral Office.
  • On 21 February 1984, following major amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the Australian Electoral Commission was established as an independent statutory authority.

This outcome is delivered via one program – Deliver Electoral Events. This program has six areas of performance for 2015–16, reported separately in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17 for the AEC (Budget-Related Paper No. 1.8, available at www.finance.gov.au/publications/portfolio-budget-statements/16-17):

Organisational structure and leadership

Structure

National office

At 30 June 2016, the National Office, in Canberra, consisted of 12 key functional areas:

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REGULAR STAFF

State/territory offices

The AEC’s state offices are located in each state capital city of Australia. The Northern Territory office is in Darwin. Divisional offices in the Australian Capital Territory office are managed by the New South Wales State Manager except during election periods, when an Australian Electoral Officer for the Australian Capital Territory is appointed.

Divisional offices and electoral divisions

Divisional offices of the AEC are responsible for electoral administration within each of the 150 electoral divisions. Each division is represented by a member of the House of Representatives. Divisional offices administer the conduct of electoral events, manage the electoral roll and carry out public awareness activities. Some divisional offices stand alone, while others are co-located in the same site. Australia’s electoral divisions as at 30 June 2016 are shown in Figure 1.

Leadership

Electoral Commissioner

The Electoral Commissioner, Mr Tom Rogers, as the chief executive officer of the AEC, both leads and is responsible for day-to-day management of the organisation. He is also the accountable authority for the three-person Australian Electoral Commission under finance law.

The Commission

The Australian Electoral Commission (the Commission) is appointed by the Governor-General and comprises the Chairperson, who must be an active or retired judge of the Federal Court of Australia, the Electoral Commissioner and a non-judicial member.

The functions of the Commission are set out in sections 7 and 7A of the Electoral Act. The Commission has various powers under the Act that can only be exercised by the Commission, particularly in relation to electoral redistributions, and political party funding and disclosure. Otherwise the Commission acts through the Electoral Commissioner, who is the CEO of the Commission (section 18).

As at 30 June 2016, the members of the Commission were:

Executive management

The AEC’s organisational structure and leadership are shown in Figure 2. Assisting the Electoral Commissioner are the Deputy Electoral Commissioner, three First Assistant Commissioners, seven Assistant Commissioners, the Chief Finance Officer and the Chief Legal Officer.

They are supported by the State Managers, who also hold statutory appointments as Australian Electoral Officer for their respective state or territory (with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory, see ‘State/territory offices’ section above).

The First Assistant Commissioners are each responsible for a Division. These are:

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YEAR ESTABLISHED as part of Department of Home Affairs
Senior Executive Group 2015–16. Back row left to right: Ian Gordon, Anna Robinson, Jeff Pope, Paul Hawes, Thomas Ryan, Doug Orr, David Lang, Paul Pirani, Gabrielle Paten, Mick Sherry, David Molnar, Stephen Blackburn, Andrew Gately. Front row left to right: Marie Nelson, Lynn White, Gina Dario, Pablo Carpay, Kath Toohey, Tom Rogers, Kevin Kitson, Tim Courtney, Bernadette O’Meara, Emma Mason.
Senior Executive Group 2015–16. Back row left to right: Ian Gordon, Anna Robinson, Jeff Pope, Paul Hawes, Thomas Ryan, Doug Orr, David Lang, Paul Pirani, Gabrielle Paten, Mick Sherry, David Molnar, Stephen Blackburn, Andrew Gately.
Front row left to right: Marie Nelson, Lynn White, Gina Dario, Pablo Carpay, Kath Toohey, Tom Rogers, Kevin Kitson, Tim Courtney, Bernadette O’Meara, Emma Mason.

Australia’s 150 electoral divisions

Australia’s 150 electoral divisions

Organisation chart and leadership structure as at 30 June 2016

Organisation chart and leadership structure as at 30 June 2016

Guiding legislation

The Electoral Act establishes the roles and responsibilities of the AEC as an independent statutory authority. Table 1 sets out the legislative instruments that guide our functions.

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YEAR ESTABLISHED as a statutory authority
Legislative framework
Legislative instrument AEC function
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 Conduct Torres Strait Regional Authority elections.
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 Conduct federal elections.
Maintain and update the Commonwealth electoral roll.
Promote public awareness of electoral and parliamentary matters through information and education programs.
Provide international electoral assistance in cases approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Conduct and promote research into electoral matters and other matters that relate to AEC functions.
Register political parties.
Pay public funding to election candidates and parties and publish financial disclosure returns of political parties and others.
Provide support to the independent redistribution process that determines representation entitlements.
Reporting of spending on advertising and market research generally (not restricted to electoral matters).
Electoral and Referendum Regulations 1940 Conduct federal elections and referendums and provide voter information.
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Manage activities in accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
Fair Work Act 2009 Conduct protected action ballots.
Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 Conduct industrial elections.
Freedom of Information Act 1982 Hold and release documents.
Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 Manage public money and property.
Public Service Act 1999 Ensure the effective and fair employment, management and leadership of AEC employees.
Privacy Act 1988 Store, use and disclose personal information.
Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 Conduct federal referendums.
Representation Act 1983 Set numbers for Senate elections.
Work Health and Safety Act 2011 Implement and report on matters concerning the health, safety and welfare of AEC workers.