About the AEC
The AEC is an independent statutory authority responsible for administering the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act) and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 (Referendum Act).
The AEC’s role is to deliver the franchise: an Australian citizen’s right to vote. The AEC conducts federal elections and referendums and maintains the Commonwealth electoral roll.
- Maintain enrolments and the electoral roll
- Manage federal elections and referendums
- Conduct ballots for industrial and commercial organisations
- Conduct public awareness and education activities
- Undertake electoral research
- Assist with overseas elections and referendums
- Administer election funding, financial disclosure and party registration
- Support electoral redistributions
The AEC embraces the Australian Public Service ICARE values – impartial, committed to service, accountable, respectful and ethical. The AEC applies these values by:
- conducting AEC business with fairness and impartiality
- maintaining high standards of integrity and ethical behaviour
- respecting and upholding the law
- respecting one another, tolerating difference and being sensitive to special needs
- being open, transparent and accountable
- respecting and listening to clients, stakeholders and each other.
- We uphold the sanctity of the ballot paper in all its forms and at all times.
- We act to serve the Australian people and the federal parliament.
- We strive for excellence.
- We never knowingly mislead anyone.
The AEC has a three-tier structure:
- a national office in Canberra
- state and territory offices
- divisional offices (single offices and combined larger work units).
At 30 June 2014, nine branches were located in the national office:
- Education and Communication
- Finance and Business Services
- Funding and Disclosure
- Information Technology
- Legal and Compliance
- People Services
- Roll Management
- Strategic Capability.
State offices are located in each state capital. The Northern Territory office is in Darwin. The Australian Capital Territory office is managed by the New South Wales state manager except during election periods, when an Australian Electoral Officer for the ACT is appointed.
Divisional offices are responsible for electoral administration within each electoral division. There are 150 electoral divisions in Australia and each division is represented by a member of the House of Representatives. Divisional offices administer the conduct of elections, manage the electoral roll and carry out public awareness activities. Some divisional offices stand alone, while others are colocated in larger work units. Figure 1 shows Australia’s electoral divisions.
Figure 1: Electoral divisions
The AEC is managed by a three-person Australian Electoral Commission. The commission is headed by a chairperson, who must be an active or retired judge of the Federal Court of Australia. The other members are the Electoral Commissioner and a non-judicial member.
The current members of the commission are:
- the Hon Peter Heerey AM QC, Chairperson
- Mr Tom Rogers, Electoral Commissioner (Acting)
- non-judicial member – vacant.
The Electoral Commissioner is responsible for management and strategic leadership of the AEC. Assisting the Electoral Commissioner are the Deputy Electoral Commissioner, two first assistant commissioners, six assistant commissioners, the Chief Finance Officer and the Chief Legal Officer.
State managers, who hold the statutory appointment of Australian Electoral Officer, are responsible for electoral activities within their state or territory. Three assistant commissioners and two state managers are also national programme managers:
- The Assistant Commissioner, Roll Management branch, has national programme responsibility for electoral enrolment.
- The Assistant Commissioner, Elections branch, has national programme responsibility for federal parliamentary and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections.
- The Assistant Commissioner, Education and Communication branch, has national programme responsibility for public awareness, information and education programmes.
- The New South Wales State Manager has national programme responsibility for industrial elections and protected action ballots.
- The Victorian State Manager has national programme responsibility for fee-for-service elections.
Figure 2 shows the AEC organisation chart and leadership structure as at 30 June 2014.
Figure 2: Organisation chart and leadership structure at 30 June 2014
The Electoral Act recognises the AEC as an independent agency. The legislation that underpins the AEC’s business processes, purpose, values and leadership is shown in Table 1.
Outcome and programmes
The AEC has one outcome:
Maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services and targeted education and public awareness programmes.
Three programmes outlined in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2013–14 meet this outcome:
- Programme 1.1 Electoral Roll Management
- Programme 1.2 Election Management and Support Services
- Programme 1.3 Education and Communication.
Programme 1.1 Electoral Roll Management
Objective: Voter entitlement for Australians and support for electoral events and redistributions through maintaining an accurate and up-to-date electoral roll.
To do this the AEC delivers:
- Electoral roll management: The AEC maintains multiple streams of contact with voters to encourage them to enrol and keep their enrolment up to date.
- Support services for electoral redistributions: The AEC provides support for the redistribution process and provides updated electoral boundary redistribution maps and advice to voters in redistributed divisions.
Programme 1.2 Election Management and Support Services
Objective: Access to an impartial and independent electoral system through the provision of election services, assistance and advice.
To do this the AEC delivers:
- Federal elections, by-elections and referendums: The AEC provides products and services to support the conduct of a federal election or referendum.
- Party registrations: The AEC maintains the Register of Political Parties as required by the Electoral Act and assists people applying for party registration.
- Funding and disclosure services: The AEC ensures transparency and accountability in political funding and expenditure by participants in the political process at the federal level. It maintains products to help people meet reporting obligations to lodge accurate and timely returns in accordance with the requirements of the Electoral Act.
- Industrial elections and protected action ballots: The AEC conducts timely and transparent industrial elections in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 and each organisation’s rules. The AEC conducts protected action ballots in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 and Fair Work Australia orders.
- Torres Strait Regional Authority elections: The AEC delivers products and services to support the conduct of Torres Strait Regional Authority elections, conducted in line with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 2005.
- Fee-for-service elections: The AEC delivers elections and ballots for authorities and organisations on a full cost recovery basis in accordance with the AEC’s minimum standards. The AEC also assists with the conduct of state, territory and local government elections where requested by the relevant electoral body.
- Advice and assistance in overseas elections: The AEC provides advice and assistance in matters relating to elections and referendums to authorities of foreign countries or to foreign organisations in cases approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Programme 1.3 Education and Communication
Objective: Informed Australians through the provision of information services on electoral matters.
To do this the AEC delivers:
- Electoral education: The AEC provides electoral education through a variety of programmes and services, including online technology. The AEC also delivers high-quality civics education in collaboration with other government and non-government agencies.
- Communication strategies and services: The AEC delivers public awareness and communication strategies to support the conduct of federal elections and referendums. It makes use of contemporary technology to deliver modern products and services in line with community preferences for online services.
- Community strategies: The AEC provides education and assistance to a range of audiences – in particular, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the Indigenous Electoral Participation Programme.
Key performance results
The 2013–14 report on performance which follows describes performance results for each of the AEC’s three programmes, including key performance indicators and outcomes over three years.