Contents

Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Program 1.1 Electoral roll management

Report on performance: Program 1.2 Election management and support services

Report on performance: Program 1.3 Education and communication

Management and accountability

Financial statements

Appendices

References

Appendix D - Freedom of information

Updated: 19 October 2011

This statement is published to meet the requirements of s.8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) as it applied to the AEC's operations from 1 July 2010 to 30 April 2011.

The Information Publication Scheme (IPS) was established in 2010–11 as part of major reform of freedom of information legislation. Since 1 May 2011, agencies subject to the FOI Act have been required to publish information to the public as part of the IPS. This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a s.8 statement in an annual report. An agency plan showing what information is published in accordance with the IPS requirements is accessible from the AEC website.

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's 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 decision-making powers under the following Acts:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005
  • 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
  • Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009
  • Fair Work Act 2009.

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's 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 46 describes the AEC documents that are available free of charge for public inspection.

Table 46 Documents available for public inspection
Document Description Location
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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 notices in newspapers and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. The notices state the addresses 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's 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 publishes notice of the application in newspapers and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. The notices state the address and deadline for lodging objections.

The AEC will consider any objection made within one month of the announcement, if the objection:

  • is submitted in writing, is signed by the objector and specifies a street address for the objector, and
  • 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, and provide such information as is reasonably necessary to identify the document.

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 was $30; however, as a result of amendments made to the FOI Act by the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Act 2010, the fee was abolished on 1 November 2010.

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). Amendments to the FOI Act by the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Act 2010 abolished the internal review application fees on 1 November 2010, and permits other means of review.

Freedom of information statistics

Table 47 gives statistics on FOI requests for 2010–11 and the preceding two years.

Table 48 gives statistics on resolution methods in 2010–11 and the preceding two years.

Table 47 FOI requests, 2008–09 to 2010–11
Request status 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
On hand at 1 July 0 1 1
Received during period 11 5 7
On hand at 30 June 1 1 0
Table 48 Resolution of FOI requests, 2008–09 to 2010–11
Method of resolution 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Request withdrawn 0 2 0
Access granted in full 6 0 4
Access granted in part 2 0 1
Access refused in full 2 3 3
Request transferred 0 0 0