The AEC is responsible for conducting industrial elections and ballots for organisations. It is also responsible for conducting officeholder and ward elections for the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
The AEC's statutory responsibilities include conducting industrial elections and ballots for registered organisations under the Workplace Relations Act 1996, and secret ballots in relation to proposed protected action ordered under that Act. They also include, under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005, responsibility for conducting officeholder and ward elections for the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
Table 17 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for Output 2.1.5 in the 2008–09 Portfolio Budget Statements.
|Key performance indicators||Targets||Results|
|Industrial elections and TSRA elections are successfully delivered as required||Industrial elections and TSRA elections are delivered in accordance with relevant legislation||No TSRA activities were conducted during the reporting period.
All industrial elections and ballots were completed in accordance with election timetables, the legislation and the rules of the relevant organisations.
|All election tasks are carried out in accordance with legislated timeframes||All ballots in relation to proposed industrial action were completed in accordance with the timetables specified in the orders made by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.|
The AEC's workload in conducting industrial elections increased and protected action ballots decreased slightly in 2008–09. There was no electoral activity for the Torres Strait Regional Authority during the year.
The AEC conducted 346 elections for registered industrial organisations in 2008–09, an increase of 17.7 per cent from the 294 elections conducted in 2007–08. The number of nominated candidates increased to 5181 from 4207 in 2007–08.
No significant complaints alleging irregularities were received. None of the 346 industrial elections conducted were challenged in court.
The AEC continued to improve access to election material for members of organisations, particularly through the AEC website. In 2008–09, the AEC displayed election notices on its website for several larger unions, including the ARTBIU (Australian Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union) and the AMWU (Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union).
Under the Workplace Relations Act, the AEC can be appointed as the authorised ballot agent to conduct secret ballots of employees to determine whether they support a proposal to take industrial action against their employer. In 2008–09, the AEC conducted 230 such protected action ballots pursuant to orders made by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, a reduction of 84 ballots or 26.8 per cent from the 314 ballots conducted in 2007–08. Of the ballots, 112 were conducted as postal ballots and 118 were conducted as attendance ballots at work sites. Among these were some large national postal ballots. The AEC generally conducts attendance ballots through its divisional offices, which in most cases are close to the work sites involved.
The Workplace Relations Act requires the AEC to prepare a post-election report for each industrial election it conducts. Results and matters arising in different branches of each industrial organisation are amalgamated into one report. The report provides feedback to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and the organisation, including details of rules that are difficult to administer or that require review, and the results of investigations undertaken by the AEC following complaints of alleged irregularities. In 2008–09, the AEC produced and distributed 155 post-election reports to stakeholders (179 in 2007–08).
For each protected action ballot, the AEC provided a ballot agent report and declaration report to the Industrial Registrar, and provided a copy of the declaration report to the applicant and to the employer. These reports are required under the Workplace Relations Act. The declaration is posted on the Australian Industrial Relations Commission website.
See Appendix I for more details of the industrial elections and protected action ballots conducted in 2008–09.
The Torres Strait Regional Authority is an Australian Government authority. Its governing board consists of 20 elected members who are all Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal people living in the Torres Strait region. Board elections take place once every four years; in 2008–09, there was no Torres Strait Regional Authority election activity.