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



Industrial elections, Protected Action Ballots and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections

Updated: 18 October 2011

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Conduct industrial elections in a timely and transparent manner that meets the requirements of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 and each organisation's rules.

Protected Actions Ballots (PABs) will be conducted in line with the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) orders.

Deliver a range of products and services to support the successful conduct of Torres Strait Regional Authority elections.

Deliver the election time specific services.


The AEC's statutory responsibilities include the conduct of:

  • industrial elections for organisations registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009,
  • protected action ballots under the Fair Work Act 2009, pursuant to orders issued by Fair Work Australia, and
  • officeholder and ward elections for the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA).

Under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009, the AEC is responsible for the conduct of industrial elections for officeholders for employee and employer organisations registered under the Act. Each election is conducted in accordance with the legislative requirements of the Act, and the specific rules of the individual organisation. After each election, the AEC provides a report to Fair Work Australia and the relevant organisation. The report includes details of rules that were difficult to administer or need to be reviewed, and the results of investigations undertaken by the AEC in response to any complaints or alleged irregularities.

Protected action ballots (PABs) are conducted under the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009. A bargaining representative for an enterprise agreement may apply to Fair Work Australia seeking a ballot order for a PAB. The object of PABs is to establish a transparent process that enables eligible employees to choose, by means of a secret ballot, whether to support the taking of industrial action. The AEC conducts the ballots in accordance with orders issued by Fair Work Australia. At the completion of each ballot, the AEC provides the declaration of results to Fair Work Australia, the applicant and the employer. If there are any complaints or irregularities, the AEC also provides to Fair Work Australia a post-ballot report outlining the details.'

The AEC conducts officeholder and ward elections for the TSRA under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005.


Table 24 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for industrial elections, PABs and TSRA elections in the 2010–11 Portfolio Budget Statements.

Table 24 Key performance results for industrial elections, protected action ballots and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections
Key performance indicators Results
Industrial elections, PABs and TSRA elections are delivered in accordance with relevant legislation. All industrial elections were conducted in accordance with the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 and the rules of the relevant organisations.

All PABs were completed in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009.

There were no TSRA elections during 2010–11.
All election tasks are carried out in accordance with legislated timeframes. All PABs were completed in accordance with the timetables set by the AEC to comply with the closing dates determined by Fair Work Australia.

PAB = protected action ballot; TSRA = Torres Strait Regional Authority.

Industrial elections and protected action ballots

In 2010–11, the AEC:

  • conducted 277 industrial elections for registered employer and employee organisations,
  • conducted 570 PABs pursuant to orders made by Fair Work Australia,
  • provided 202 reports to stakeholders after industrial elections, and
  • produced 10 post-ballot reports relating to PABs.

Figure 10 and Figure 11 show the trends in demand for these types of elections over the past five years.

Figure 10 Trends in demand for industrial elections, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Figure 10 line graph showing a downward trend in demand for industrial elections

Text description of Figure 10

Figure 11 Trends in demand for protected action ballots, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Figure 11 Trends in demand for protected action ballots, 2006–07 to 2010–11

Text description of Figure 11

No significant complaints were received alleging irregularities during 2010–11.

Two industrial elections conducted by the AEC were challenged in court.

  • In the first matter, the applicant claimed that there were irregularities relating to the non-receipt of ballot material by a small number of members. The court determined that even if any of the alleged irregularities could be established they could not have affected the result of the election, and concluded that the inquiry was terminated.
  • In the second matter, a candidate lodged an application for an election inquiry challenging the eligibility of the only other candidate for the same position, based upon entitlement to membership of the organisation. The court determined that although no irregularity had occurred in the election the candidate was not entitled to contest the election. The applicant was declared by the AEC to be elected to the office.

The AEC received 110 applications for PABs during the 2010 federal election period (19 July to 24 September 2010). See Appendix I for more details of the industrial elections and PABs conducted in 2010–11.

Torres Strait Regional Authority elections

The Torres Strait Regional Authority is an Australian Government authority. Its governing board consists of at least 20 elected members who are living in the Torres Strait region. Board elections take place once every four years; in 2010–11, there was no Torres Strait Regional Authority election activity.