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



AEC Overview

Updated: 22 December 2010

About the AEC

Figure 1: Performance framework
Drivers Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918
Portfolio Budget Statements
AEC National Business Plan 2008–2009
Output groups Output Group 1.1
Electoral roll management
Output Group 2.1
Elections, ballots and referendums
Output Group 3.1
Electoral education
  • Electoral roll management
  • Support services for electoral redistributions
  • Federal elections, by-elections and referendums
  • Party registrations
  • Funding and disclosure services
  • Fee-for-service elections
  • Industrial and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections
  • Advice and assistance in overseas elections
  • Electoral education centres
  • School and community programs
  • Communication strategies and services
Outcomes An effective electoral roll An impartial and independent electoral system An informed community
  Australians have an electoral roll which ensures their voter entitlement and provides the basis for the planning of electoral events and electoral redistributions Stakeholders and customers have access to and advice on impartial and independent electoral services and participate in electoral events An Australian community which is well informed about electoral matters


The AEC is the Australian Government agency responsible for providing Australians with an independent electoral service that meets their needs and enhances their understanding of and participation in the electoral process.


Our purpose is to help people have their say in who will represent them in the Parliament of Australia. We do this by providing impartial and accessible electoral services.


Our aim is to be recognised as an organisation that provides excellence in the management and delivery of electoral services.


We reflect the values of the Australian Public Service (APS) in the high standards of behaviour we observe on a day-to-day basis. In particular, we emphasise the following values that assist us in behaving ethically in carrying out our duty. We:

  • conduct our business with fairness and impartiality
  • maintain high standards of integrity and ethical behaviour
  • respect and uphold the law
  • are open, transparent and accountable for what we do
  • respect and listen to our clients and stakeholders and each other
  • serve the Australian people and the federal parliament.

Outcome and output structure

Figure 1 shows the AEC's performance reporting framework, which is based on delivering three 'outcomes' for the Australian community:

  • An effective electoral roll – Australians have an electoral roll that ensures their voter entitlement and provides the basis for the planning of electoral events and electoral redistributions.
  • An impartial and independent electoral system – stakeholders and customers have access to and advice on impartial and independent electoral services and participate in electoral events.
  • An informed community – the Australian community is well informed about electoral matters.

The functions performed by the AEC to produce these desired outcomes are defined as 'outputs'.

The AEC's outcomes and outputs, and corresponding key performance indicators, are described in the annual Department of Finance and Deregulation Portfolio Budget Statements and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements. There is no variation between the AEC's outcomes and outputs described in the Portfolio Budget Statements for 2008–09 and those described in this report.

Legislative framework

The AEC operates as an independent agency under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act). The Electoral Act was amended in 1984 to establish a three-person Commission with the functions and powers set out in s. 7 of the Electoral Act. The Commission meets as required in accordance with s. 15 of the Electoral Act.

The various legislative provisions under which the AEC develops its core business processes, purpose, values and leadership capabilities, and conducts its activities, are summarised in Table 1.


At 30 June 2009, the Commissioners were:

  • the Hon. James Burchett QC, the Chairperson (the Chairperson must be an active or retired judge of the Federal Court of Australia)
  • Mr Ed Killesteyn, the Electoral Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the AEC
  • Mr Brian Pink, the Australian Statistician, the part-time, non-judicial member.
Table 1 Legislative framework
Legislative instrument AEC function
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005 Conducting certain Torres Strait Regional Authority elections
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 Conducting federal elections

Maintaining and updating the Commonwealth electoral roll, including evidence of identity requirements

Promoting public awareness of electoral and parliamentary matters through information and education programs

Providing international electoral assistance in cases approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Conducting and promoting research into electoral matters and other matters that relate to AEC functions

Registering political parties

Paying public funding to election candidates and parties, and publishing financial details of political parties and others

Determining representation entitlements (redistributions)
Electoral and Referendum Regulations 1940 Conducting federal elections and referendums and providing elector information
Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 Managing public money and property
Freedom of Information Act 1982 Holding and releasing documents
Privacy Act 1988 Storing, using and disclosing personal information
Public Service Act 1999 Ensuring the effective and fair employment, management and leadership of its employees
Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 Conducting referendums
Representation Act 1983 Conducting Senate elections
Workplace Relations Act 1996 Conducting industrial elections and protected action ballots

Senior staff and their responsibilities

As Chief Executive Officer, the Electoral Commissioner has the powers of an agency head (within the meaning of the Public Service Act 1999), and has responsibility for the management and strategic leadership of the AEC in relation to:

  • enrolment and election activities
  • conduct of federal parliamentary elections and referendums, and certain other ballots, including those for industrial organisations
  • electoral education programs
  • electoral research
  • administration of human, financial and other resources
  • provision of assistance in relation to overseas elections and referendums
  • national dissemination of electoral information and education services.

Assisting the Electoral Commissioner in the national office are the Deputy Electoral Commissioner, two first assistant commissioners, five assistant commissioners, the Chief Finance Officer and the Chief Legal Officer. State Managers, who hold the statutory appointment of Australian Electoral Officer for each state and the Northern Territory, also assist the Electoral Commissioner to manage electoral activities in their respective jurisdictions.

The AEC's organisational structure for 2008–09, including the names of senior executives, is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Organisation chart (Click to view larger version:)

Figure 2: Organisation chart

Office network

AEC offices are organised geographically, with a national office in Canberra, a state office in each state and the Northern Territory, and divisional offices in or near each of the 150 electoral divisions.

National office

Executive Management Group. Front: Ed Killesteyn. 2nd row (l,r): Jenni McMullan, Anne Bright, Barbara Davis.
3rd row: Neal Mason, Daryl Wight, Iain Loganathan, Colin Nagle, Marie Nelson. 4th row: Rachel Harris, Michael Maley,
Doug Orr, Chris Drury, Pablo Carpay, Paul Dacey.

Executive Management Group. Front: Ed Killesteyn. 2nd row (l,r): Jenni McMullan, Anne Bright, Barbara Davis. 3rd row: Neal Mason, Daryl Wight, Iain Loganathan, Colin Nagle, Marie Nelson. 4th row: Rachel Harris, Michael Maley, Doug Orr, Chris Drury, Pablo Carpay, Paul Dacey.

The AEC's national office in Canberra is organised functionally into the following five branches each managed by an assistant commissioner, and two units managed by the Chief Legal Officer and the Chief Finance Officer respectively:

  • Communications and Information Strategy
  • Elections
  • Information Technology
  • People and Performance
  • Roll Management
  • Chief Finance Officer unit
  • Chief Legal Officer unit (incorporating Legal Services and Funding and Disclosure functions).

In addition, the national office accommodates:

  • the International Services section, reporting directly to a first assistant commissioner
  • the Internal Audit function, reporting directly to the Deputy Electoral Commissioner, who chairs the Business Assurance Committee
  • the GENESIS program (redeveloping the AEC's roll management computer system), reporting directly to a first assistant commissioner.

During 2008–09, the AEC reflected on the national office structure to ensure that it continues to meet business needs and appropriately balances the needs to 'do' and to 'support', while also providing capacity for future thinking and strategic capability. At 30 June 2009 internal consultation on a draft realignment was underway. The final structure will be determined and implemented early in 2009–10.

State offices

Each State Manager is responsible for managing AEC activities within the state or territory, including conducting federal elections and referendums, and is the Australian Electoral Officer (AEO) for the state or territory.

The State Manager for New South Wales also has administrative responsibility for the Australian Capital Territory divisions between elections. During an election period, an AEO is appointed for the Australian Capital Territory.

In addition:

  • the State Manager for New South Wales has national policy responsibility for the AEC's conduct of industrial elections, and manages the National Property unit
  • the State Manager for Victoria has national policy responsibility for the AEC's fee-for-service elections
  • the State Manager for South Australia managed the AEC's electoral education centres.

Divisional offices

Each state or territory is divided into a number of electoral divisions that correspond to its number of members in the House of Representatives. At the end of 2008–09, there were 150 electoral divisions. Divisional offices are responsible for service delivery in elections, enrolment and public awareness. Some divisional offices may be co-located with other divisional offices or state offices.

Australia's electoral divisions are shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Electoral divisions (Click to view larger version:)

Figure 3: Electoral divisions

Contact details

The AEC's national telephone inquiry number is 13 23 26; the national email address for inquiries is

Contact details for the AEC's national office and state offices are shown in Table 2. The AEC website ( provides contact details for divisional offices.

Table 2 National and state office contact details
  Address Telephone
National West Block
Queen Victoria Terrace Parkes ACT 2600
02 6271 4411
New South Wales Level 4, Roden Cutler House 24 Campbell Street
Sydney NSW 2000
02 9375 6333
Victoria Level 8, Casselden Place 2 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
03 9285 7171
Queensland Seventh Floor
488 Queen Street Brisbane QLD 4000
07 3834 3400
Western Australia Level 3,
111 St Georges Terrace Perth WA 6000
08 6363 8080
South Australia Ninth Floor, Origin Energy House 1 King William Street
Adelaide SA 5000
08 8237 6555
Tasmania Second Floor, AMP Building 86 Collins Street
Hobart TAS 7000
03 6235 0500
Northern Territory Level 7, TCG Centre 80 Mitchell Street Darwin NT 0800 08 8982 8000