|Stakeholders and customers have access to and advice on impartial and independent electoral services and participate in electoral events|
|Output Group 2.1
Elections, ballots and referendums
Federal elections, by-elections and referendums
Funding and disclosure services
Industrial and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections
Advice and assistance in overseas elections
Under Outcome 2, the AEC delivers a range of high-quality, timely and expert electoral services and advice, in Australia and overseas. There was strong demand for these services in 2008–09, despite the drop in levels of certain activities that is usual in the year following a federal election.
Preparation for the next federal election was a major activity across the AEC in 2008–09. An 'election ready' date of 30 June 2010 was selected, to ensure that the AEC would be ready for a federal election at the earliest possible date in a standard three-year cycle. Progress towards that date is guided by a strategic, whole-of-AEC Election Preparation Program. In 2008–09, to inform the preparations, AEC working parties made recommendations on a range of matters arising from the 2007 election, including the nominations process; election forms and materials; the Election Management System; and training materials and processes for polling staff and AEC staff. To maintain staff focus on election preparations an 'Election Ready' feature was added to the AEC intranet and a National Election Preparation Update publication was launched.
In response to the 2008 judgement of the Court of Disputed Returns in relation to the counting and re-counting of ballot papers in the Division of McEwen in the 2007 federal election, the AEC engaged Mr Alan Henderson, a former senior Commonwealth public servant. Mr Henderson conducted an independent review of AEC policies, guidelines, procedures, manuals and training provided to electoral officials about the requirements of the Electoral Act when making decisions about the formality of ballot papers. The AEC has commenced action to implement Mr Henderson's recommendations. The AEC also continued its research on the factors that contribute to informal voting, based on experience at the 2007 federal election and recent by-elections.
The AEC successfully conducted federal by-elections in the Division of Lyne in New South Wales and the Division of Mayo in South Australia in 2008–09, and finalised the by-election held in the Division of Gippsland in Victoria on 28 June 2008.
In 2008–09, the AEC saw an overall increase in workload related to party registrations, including applications to register a political party, to deregister a political party, to change a registered name and to seek a review of a delegate's decision. The number of funding disclosure returns also increased, as returns for the 2007–08 reporting period, included those due for 2007 federal election activities. The AEC completed enhancements to the disclosure website and provided training on the new facility to media commentators before the February 2009 release of the returns.
Demand for the AEC's electoral services in fee-for-service elections increased significantly during 2008–09, continuing a trend that has seen demand for these services more than double over the past four years. The AEC also provided assistance with a range of electoral events, including state elections, across the states and territories.
Although 2008–09 saw a decrease in the AEC's workload in conducting protected action ballots (secret ballots of employees to vote on whether they support taking industrial action against their employer), there was a small increase in demand for the AEC to conduct industrial elections. The AEC continued to improve access to industrial election materials through the AEC website.
Throughout 2008–09, the AEC continued to provide electoral advice and assistance overseas. The AEC's strategic partnership agreement with AusAID and the AEC's membership of the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators' Network (PIANZEA) continued to provide a framework for close cooperation in efforts to build electoral capacity in the Asia-Pacific region. The Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) capacity development curriculum was further progressed; AEC staff delivered BRIDGE training modules in Bhutan and East Timor. The AEC also continued to share and build its electoral expertise through secondments, observer missions and participation in international forums and delegations.
The activities of Output Group 2.1 are described in more detail in the reports on the individual outputs.
Preparations for the next federal election will continue in 2009–10, including the conduct of a simulated election exercise which will give staff an opportunity to familiarise themselves with a range of key election activities and systems over a period of six months. A review of the election procedures manuals, taking in lessons from the 2007 federal election experience, is expected to be completed in early 2009–10.
The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters tabled its report on the conduct of the 2007 federal election on 22 June 2009. During 2009–10, there will be significant work involved in implementing the government-supported recommendations of the committee's report, noting that a number of these will require legislative change. The implementation process will involve developing new policies and procedures as well as making appropriate changes to election IT systems and operational training.
The AEC will maintainits strategic partnership agreement with AusAID, provide support for the electoral administrations of the Asia-Pacific region, enhance the BRIDGE curriculum and website, and build networks with the global electoral community, including through work placements and visitor programs.
No purchaser-provider arrangements were in place for Outcome 2 in 2008–09.
No developments since the end of the financial year have affected or may affect Outcome 2 operations or results.