Potential Issues with the AEC

THE AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION (AEC)

The changes to the Electoral Act in 1983-4 established the AEC as a Statutory Authority no longer responsible to Parliament.

The Commission is managed by three members: 
  • the Chairman (who must be an active or retired judge of the Federal Court of Australia)
  • the Electoral Commissioner
  • the Australian Statistician (head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics)
In a 1998 interview, the then Electoral Commissioner stated that the aim of the Commission was to make as many electorates as possible marginal by redistributions at specified periods. The optimum population size in each electorate  is around 80,000-90,000 persons.

Decisions on boundaries are negotiated with and between the political parties based on the advice of the Australian Statistician.

Disputes arise with both Federal and State decisions about electorate boundaries. Submissions often follow to both the Federal and State Joint Standing Committees (JSCEMs) on Electoral matters. Cases affecting the outcomes of elections, dependent on evidence submitted, reflect on the reputation of the AEC and its officials.

The officials are meant to be politically impartial but evidence has been submitted to the JSCEMs claiming that bias exists amongst AEC employees working on election days. 

The investigation in early 2014 by former Federal Police Commission Mick Keelty into the loss of 1370 votes by the AEC in the 7 September 2013 WA Senate election showed inadequacies and incompetence by the AEC and the unchecked opportunities for political bias. Download the full report.

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