Contents

Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability

Appendices

References

Financial statements

Outcome 2 overview

Updated: 25 November 2010

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Access to an impartial and independent electoral system for Australians through the provision of electoral services

Program structure

In 2009–10, Outcome 2 was delivered through six programs, as shown in Table 17.

Table 17 Outcome 2 programs and deliverables
Outcome

2 Access to an impartial and independent electoral system for Australians through the provision of election services

Programs

2.1 Federal elections, by-elections and referendums

2.2 Party registrations

2.3 Funding and disclosure services

Objective

Following the completion of the AEC review of the 2007 election during 2008–09, continue with the implementation of associated enhancements to AEC systems, practice, procedures and materials in advance of the next federal election.

Timely, and as appropriate, AEC implementation of the Government's response to the 2007 election.

Successful conduct of any by-elections in the financial year as required.

The Register of Political Parties is maintained by the AEC, as required by the Electoral Act. The AEC receives and processes applications for registration and for changes to the details contained in the register. It also regularly reviews parties' continuing eligibility for registration.

The funding and disclosure provisions of the Electoral Act are intended to improve the integrity of the electoral process. The AEC receives and processes financial disclosure returns and makes these available for public inspection on its website. The AEC also conducts compliance reviews of the disclosures made by political parties and associated entities. After each election or by-election, the AEC pays public funding entitlements to candidates and parties as required by the Electoral Act.

Deliverables

Program 2.1 will deliver a wide range of products that will enable the successful conduct of a federal election. These products are both for electors (for example procurement of polling equipment, identification of polling places, public information campaigns and communication products), and AEC staff (for example computer based systems, training materials, procedural materials, electoral forms).

Plans will also be in place for the delivery of election time specific services.

Program 2.2 will deliver an accurate and timely Register of Political Parties that meets the requirements of the Electoral Act. The program also maintains a range of communication products via the Internet to assist persons in making applications for party registration.

Program 2.3 will deliver transparency and accountability in the sources of political funding in Australia and the expenditure of those participants involved in the political process at the federal level.

A range of products has been produced, and will continue to be maintained, that are designed to assist persons with reporting obligations to lodge accurate and timely returns in accordance with the requirements of the Electoral Act.

Performance report

Program 2.1 – Federal elections, by-elections and referendums

Program 2.2 – Party registrations

Program 2.3 – Funding and disclosure services

Programs

2.4 Fee-for-service elections

2.5 Industrial and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections

2.6 Advice and assistance in overseas elections

Objective

The AEC conducts elections and ballots for authorities and organisations that have accepted a quote for service, and provides assistance with the conduct of state, territory and local government elections at the request of the relevant electoral body.

The AEC's statutory responsibilities include conducting elections and ballots for registered organisations under the Workplace Relations Act 1996.a The AEC is also responsible for the conduct of office holder and ward elections for the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA).

Under the Electoral Act, the AEC is required to provide, in cases approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, assistance in matters relating to elections and referendums (including secondment of personnel and the supply or loan of materiel) to authorities of foreign countries and organisations.

Deliverables

Program 2.4 will successfully deliver elections and ballots for authorities and organisations that have accepted a quote for service in accordance with the AEC's minimum standards.

Deliver effective assistance to the conduct of state, territory and local government elections at the request of the relevant electoral body.

Deliver an increasing number of elections and ballots each year for authorities and organisations that have accepted a quote for service.

Program 2.5 will deliver a wide range of products that will enable the successful conduct of any TSRA elections held in this period. These products are both for electors (for example procurement of polling equipment, identification of polling places, public information campaigns, and communication products), and AEC staff (for example computer based systems, training materials, procedural manuals, electoral forms).

Plans will also be in place for the delivery of election time specific services.

Industrial elections will be conducted in a timely and transparent manner and will meet the requirements of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. These are also conducted in accordance with the organisation's rules.

Protected Action Ballots (PABs) will be conducted in line with the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) orders.

Program 2.6 will deliver, in cases approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, assistance in matters relating to elections and referendums to authorities of foreign countries or to foreign organisations. As part of this process, capacity building materials will be developed.

Performance report

Program 2.4 – Fee-for-service elections

Program 2.5 – Industrial and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections

Program 2.6 – Advice and assistance in overseas elections

a On 1 July 2009, the Workplace Relations Act 1996 was replaced by the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 and the Fair Work Act 2009.

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Performance

In anticipation of the 2010 federal election, the AEC focused on having the people, premises, products, policies, processes and systems in place for the effective conduct of the election, and making sure that those resources will be ready where and when they are required. Key elements of the preparations in 2009–10 included:

  • securing necessary services and equipment, such as call centre services, polling equipment and forms
  • improving vital systems, such as the postal vote issuing system and the Central Senate Scrutiny system
  • delivering new election training packages, based on adult learning principles and online delivery options, for both permanent AEC staff and temporary polling officials.

In December 2009, the AEC successfully conducted by-elections for the Division of Bradfield in New South Wales and the Division of Higgins in Victoria, within the legislated timeframes. The AEC's comprehensive communication strategy for the by-elections included state-wide and local advertising, public relations activities, publications and an election website. The virtual tally room, accessible through the AEC website, provided reliable, rapid access to results, and was used extensively by members of the public, the media and political parties.

The AEC continued to maintain, update and make publicly available the Register of Political Parties. Demand for this service was relatively high in 2009–10, as is typical in the period leading up to a federal election. The registration of a new party name with some similarity to a party name already registered is proving to be one of the most complex elements in assessing party registration applications, and prompted two reviews of AEC decisions to allow a party name to be registered. The Commission affirmed the delegate's decision in both cases.

The AEC processed financial disclosure returns efficiently, and made the results available on its website in a timely manner, although a significant proportion of returns were lodged after the due date. The AEC also administered the disclosure returns and election funding for the two by-elections held during the year. In both by-elections, only the candidates standing for the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Greens achieved the 4 percent of the formal first preference vote which entitles candidates to receive funding.

In 2009–10, demand for the AEC's fee-for-service election and ballot services decreased slightly (by 15 percent) compared to 2008–09, while maintaining a level above those of the previous three financial years. The format of fee-for-service information on the AEC website was updated and improved, to make it more user-friendly and easily accessible. The AEC also engaged with peak bodies representing human resources managers in the public and private sectors to build fee-for-service brand awareness. The AEC provided assistance with electoral events in states and the Northern Territory during the year.

Trends in demand for the AEC's assistance with workplace-related voting were very mixed: demand for elections for office holders of registered industrial organisations fell by 24 percent, while demand for protected action ballots rose by 187 percent. No Torres Strait Regional Authority elections were conducted in 2009–10.

The services and materiel that the AEC provides to support electoral events and institutions overseas continued to be effectively delivered and very well received. For example:

  • The Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) collaboration, which has conducted electoral education workshops in 53 countries since its inception, received the 2010 United Nations Public Service Award in the category of 'Improving the delivery of public services', the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service.
  • An independent review of Australian support for strengthening political governance in developing countries, commissioned by AusAID, reported positively on the AEC's contribution.

Working with AusAID, the AEC provided targeted advice and assistance to six countries in the Asia–Pacific region in 2009–10. AEC staff shared and broadened their electoral expertise by taking part in a range of international secondments, observer missions, forums and delegations during the year, and gave briefings to other Australian Government agencies that deliver services overseas.

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Outlook

During 2010–11, the AEC will ensure that Australians continue to have access to an impartial and independent electoral system, and provide a range of services to support the electoral process in Australia and internationally. In particular, the AEC will:

  • conduct and review the 2010 federal election
  • implement any changes to the conduct of federal elections and referendums that may arise from recent legislative reforms and recommendations of parliamentary committees
  • implement the recommendations made by the Australian National Audit Office in Performance audit report no. 28 2009–10 – The Australian Electoral Commission's Preparation for and Conduct of the 2007 Federal General Election
  • launch targeted marketing activities to promote its fee-for-service election functions, and trial a potential software solution to allow e-voting in fee-for-service elections
  • continue to develop new curriculum materials for the BRIDGE program
  • provide assistance to electoral authorities in the Asia–Pacific region – for example, to support the election to be held in Tonga.