Australian Electoral Commission
|Formed||21 February 1984|
|Jurisdiction||Commonwealth of Australia|
|Employees||2,166 (as at April 2013)|
|Parent agency||Department of Finance and Deregulation|
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is the federal government agency in charge of organising, conducting and supervising federal elections and referendums. State and local government elections are overseen by separate Electoral Commissions in each state and territory: New South Wales elections are conducted by the New South Wales Electoral Commission, in Queensland it is the Electoral Commission of Queensland; in Victoria it is the Victorian Electoral Commission; in South Australia it is the Electoral Commission of South Australia; in Tasmania it is the Tasmanian Electoral Commission; in Western Australia it is the Western Australian Electoral Commission; in the Northern Territory it is the Northern Territory Electoral Commission and in the Australian Capital Territory it is the Australian Capital Territory Electoral Commission.
The Australian Electoral Commission is also responsible for seat boundaries and redistributions, and maintains the Commonwealth electoral roll. Under the Joint Roll Arrangements, the AEC maintains the electoral roll for the whole of Australia. This roll is used by the state and territory Electoral Commissions to conduct their elections.
The AEC also plays a leading role in electoral education and industrial voting (votes on industrial action).
History and structure
The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902 set up the framework for the Commonwealth electoral system, which was administered as a branch of the Department of Home Affairs. In 1973, the Australian Electoral Office was created, a name it retained until 21 February 1984 when it became the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), a Commonwealth statutory authority.
The AEC was created by and operates under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. It consists of a chairman (a Judge or a retired Judge of the Federal Court), the Electoral Commissioner and a non-judicial member (usually the Australian Statistician). The Electoral Commissioner has the powers of a Secretary of a Department under the Public Service Act 1999 and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1998. The Chairperson and the third, non-judicial member both hold their offices on a part-time basis.
AEC has a National Office in Canberra and an office in each State and Territory: Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Each House of Representatives electorate has a Divisional Returning Officer responsible for administration of elections within the division. Each State also has an Australian Electoral Officer responsible for administration of Senate elections.
The AEC's major responsibilities are to run federal elections, by-elections and referendums, as well as maintaining up-to-date electoral rolls. The AEC publishes detailed election results and follows up electors who fail to vote.
The AEC is also responsible for monitoring the activities of registered political parties, including receiving returns from parties of donations and expenditures, and the publication of the information. It also disburses public funding of political parties.
The AEC is answerable to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters of the Parliament of Australia, and must report on how elections were carried out and the success of the elections in general. The AEC also plays an electoral education role, aiming to educate citizens about the electoral process by which representatives are elected, and by which the Australian Constitution is changed (referendums).
Changes to electoral enrolment before an election
In 1984 a change to the Commonwealth Electoral Act allowed for the grace period after an election is called before the electoral rolls are closed to be extended to seven days. Many people either enrol or change their enrolment details in this period. Prior to the 2004 federal election there were 423,993 changes to enrolment were processed in the close of roll period; of these, 78,816 were new enrolments and 225,314 were changes of address.
For the 2007 Federal Election, new laws were passed to reduce the grace period for new enrolments to 8 pm on the same business day as the issue of the writs, and for those who need to update their address details, they are given until 8 pm on the third business day after the issue of the writs.
On 6 August 2010, the High Court of Australia issued a ruling in Rowe v Electoral Commissioner which extended the close of rolls by one week, allowing additional eligible voters to vote in the 2010 Federal Election. Supplementary lists of additional voters were distributed to polling places, and these voters were also contacted by the AEC via postal mail.
List of Australian Electoral Commissioners
|21 February 1984||26 November 1989||Colin Anfield Hughes|
|18 December 1989||20 December 1994||Brian Field Cox|
|16 January 1995||14 January 2000||Wilfred James "Bill" Gray|
|23 March 2000||1 July 2005||Andrew Kingsley "Andy" Becker|
|2 July 2005||22 September 2008||Ian Campbell|
|5 January 2009||4 July 2014||Ed Killesteyn|
|15 Dec 2014||Present||Tom Rogers|
On 21 February 2014, Ed Killesteyn announced his resignation as Australian Electoral Commissioner, with effect on 4 July 2014. He took personal leave until that date, and Deputy Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers acted in his place, before being appointed to the position.
- Australian Public Service Commission (2 December 2013), State of the Service Report: State of the Service Series 2012-13 (PDF), Australian Public Service Commission, p. 253, archived from the original (PDF) on 6 December 2013
- Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902
- Matthew Knott (30 May 2014). "AFP to investigate thousands of cases of multiple voting in 2013 election". The Sydney Moring Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- "Parliament of Australia: Joint Committee on Electoral Matters: Home Page". Aph.gov.au. Archived from the original on 8 January 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
- Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz, Special Minister of State (2005). "Speech – Address to the Sydney Institute: "Electoral reform: making our democracy fairer for all"". Australian Department of Finance (www.finance.gov.au). Retrieved 6 April 2006.[dead link]
- "Close of Rolls". Australian Electoral Commission (www.aec.gov.au). 2007. Archived from the original on 19 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
- "Statement from the Australian Electoral Commission on High Court Decision". Australian Electoral Commission (www.aec.gov.au). 2010. Archived from the original on 16 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- "Statement from the Australian Electoral Commission on High Court Decision". Australian Electoral Commission (www.aec.gov.au). 2010. Archived from the original on 18 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- "Media Release: Appointment of the Electoral Commissioner". Special Minister of State. 12 April 2013.
- Bourke, Latika (2014). "Ed Killesteyn resigns as Australian Electoral Commissioner". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
- The Australian Electoral Commission website
- The Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand website, the consultative council between the AEC, New Zealand, state and territory electoral authorities