Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability

Financial performance and future operations

Appendices

References

Appendix D - Freedom of information

Updated: 6 December 2010

This statement is published to meet the requirements of s. 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).

Organisation and functions

The AEC is part of the Finance and Deregulation portfolio. Information about the portfolio can be found on the Department of Finance and Deregulation's website (www.finance.gov.au).

Information about the AEC's organisational structure can be found in the 'Overview' section of this report and on the AEC website (www.aec.gov.au).

The 'Overview' section of this report and s. 7 of the Electoral Act describe the AEC's functions and the legislative framework under which it operates.

Decision-making powers

Authorised AEC officers may exercise certain decision-making powers under the following Acts:

  • Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918
  • Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997
  • Freedom of Information Act 1982
  • Privacy Act 1988
  • Public Service Act 1999
  • Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984
  • Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Categories of documents open to the public

Many documents held by the AEC are available free of charge to members of the public. They can be obtained through the AEC website or by telephoning 13 23 26 (see Appendix J for a list of publications). In addition, the AEC places an indexed list of file titles on its website every six months.

Table 43 describes the AEC documents that are available free of charge for public inspection.

Table 43 Documents available for public inspection
Document Description Location
Electoral roll Contains electors' names, addresses and electorate information. The roll in electronic format is available for public inspection on computer facilities provided at the AEC's divisional, state, territory and national offices. A facility enabling electors to verify their enrolment details is available on the AEC website (www.aec.gov.au).
Register of general postal voters Contains name and address information for general postal voters for each electoral process. Registers are available for public inspection at the relevant divisional offices.
Postal vote applications May include name, address, date of birth, signature and witness details. Applications are available for public inspection at the relevant divisional offices for a limited period after an election.
Electoral nomination forms May include name, address, occupation, date of birth, signature, citizenship, political affiliation and contact details for candidates nominating for election. Nominations are available for public inspection in the relevant divisional offices in relation to House of Representatives elections and at the relevant state offices in relation to Senate elections.
Financial disclosure returns Returns of financial transactions submitted by candidates, political parties and others; may include name, address, business dealings and political dealings. Returns are available for public inspection on the AEC website.
Applications for party registration May include name, address, political affiliation, telephone number and signature. Applications are available for public inspection at the AEC's national office.
Register of political parties Lists all political parties registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918; may include names, addresses and political affiliations of registered officers and deputy registered officers. The register is available for public inspection at the AEC's national office and state and territory offices and on the AEC website.
Redistributions suggestions, objections and comments Public suggestions, objections and comments submitted during the course of redistribution of federal electoral boundaries under the Electoral Act; may include name, address and opinion. These documents are available for public inspection at the AEC's national office, state and territory offices and relevant divisional offices, and on the AEC website.

Arrangements for public involvement

Members of the public are invited to make their views on current policies and procedures of the AEC known to the Electoral Commissioner by writing to:

The Electoral Commissioner
Australian Electoral Commission
PO Box 6172
Kingston ACT 2604.

Redistributions

In accordance with Part IV of the Electoral Act, a number of stages during a redistribution require public notification and consultation.

At the commencement of a redistribution process, the Electoral Commissioner invites suggestions and comments from the public through newspaper advertisements and in the Commonwealth Gazette. The notices state the address and deadlines for making suggestions and comments. Subsequently, notification of a redistribution proposal is published in newspapers and the Gazette, including an invitation to lodge objections to the proposal and comments on objections. The Act provides for further public consultation in specified circumstances, and requires formal notification of subsequent steps in the process.

Information on redistributions is also available on the AEC website.

Party registration

Under s. 132 of the Electoral Act, any person may object to the registration of a political party because the party is not eligible for registration, the technical requirements for an application have not been met, or the party name must be refused.

When a political party applies for registration, the AEC is required to publish notice of the application in the Commonwealth Gazette and through newspaper advertisements. The notice must state the address and deadline for lodging objections. The AEC will consider any objection made within one month of the announcement, if it:

  • is submitted in writing, is signed by the objector and specifies a street address for the objector
  • states the grounds for the objector's belief that the application for party registration should be refused.

Procedures for accessing documents under the FOI Act

Under Part III of the FOI Act, members of the public may apply to access AEC documents that are not otherwise generally available.

Applications

An application for access to documents of the AEC that are not generally available to the public must be made in accordance with s. 15 of the FOI Act. The application must be made in writing, provide such information as is reasonably necessary to identify the document, specify an address in Australia to which notices can be sent, and be accompanied by the application fee (see below).

The AEC's Freedom of Information Officer will help applicants to ensure that their applications comply with s. 15 of the FOI Act.

Initial contact point

Applications for access under the FOI Act to documents held by the AEC should be sent to:

The Freedom of Information Officer
Australian Electoral Commission
PO Box 6172
Kingston ACT 2604
Telephone: 02 6271 4511
Facsimile: 02 6271 4457.

Fees and charges

The application fee is $30. Additional processing charges may apply for time spent in searching for and retrieving documents, and for time spent in deciding whether to grant, refuse or defer access to a document, or to grant access to a copy of a document by means of deletions, photocopying and dispatch.

The AEC's policy on imposing fees and charges under the Freedom of Information (Fees and Charges) Regulations is that, where applicable, fees should be collected and charges should be imposed for processing FOI Act requests.

The AEC's policy is not to apply an application fee if the FOI request relates only to the applicant's personal information. However, the AEC may remit, reduce or not impose fees or charges in certain circumstances; for example, if it is in the public interest to disclose the document or if imposing a fee would cause financial hardship to the applicant. An applicant seeking such a remission should forward supporting evidence with their application.

Internal review

An applicant who is dissatisfied with a decision made under the FOI Act may apply for an internal review. Requests for internal review are usually subject to statutory timeframes and a $40 application fee (payment must accompany the request). FOI Act cases may also involve proceedings for externaladministrative or judicial review.

Freedom of information statistics

Table 44 provides statistics on FOI requests for 2008–09 and the preceding two years.

Table 44 FOI requests, 2006–07 to 2008–09
Request status 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
On hand at 1 July 1 4 0
Received during period 17 20 11
On hand at 30 June 4 0 1

Table 45 provides statistics on resolution methods in 2008–09 and the preceding two years.

Table 45 Resolution of FOI requests, 2006–07 to 2008–09
Request status 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09
Request withdrawn 2 5 0
Access granted in full 6 11 6
Access granted in part 5 6 2
Access refused in full 1 2 2
Request transferred 0 0 0