Senate debates

Monday, 24 November 2014


Australian Electoral Commission

4:27 pm

Photo of Anne McEwenAnne McEwen (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

At the request of Senator Wong, I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

(i) the role of the Australian Electoral Commissioner (the Commissioner) is essential to the performance, transparency and accountability of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC),

(ii) the need to maintain community confidence in the ability of the AEC to carry out its statutory responsibilities, including the upcoming redistributions in Western Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory,

(iii) the Special Minister of State advised the public That the previous Commissioner, Mr Ed Killesteyn PSM, tendered his resignation to the Governor-General on 21 February 2014,

(iv) the position of Commissioner has formally been vacant since the resignation of Mr Killesteyn took effect on 26 June 2014,

(v) the statement of the Special Minister of State to the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee at the 2013 14 additional estimates on 25 February 2014 that 'The intention is to have someone in place by about 4 July if humanly possible',

(vi) the position of non-judicial member of the AEC has been vacant since the resignation of the Australian Statistician, Mr Brian Pink, on 12 January 2014, and

(vii) the position of Australian Electoral Officer is also vacant in two states and one territory; and

(b) calls on the Special Minister of State to take immediate steps to ensure the appointment, as a matter of priority, of suitably qualified and experienced people to the roles of:

(i) Australian Electoral Commissioner;

(ii) non-judicial member of the Australian Electoral Commission, and

(iii) Australian Electoral Officer in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Photo of Mitch FifieldMitch Fifield (Victoria, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Leave is granted for one minute.

Photo of Mitch FifieldMitch Fifield (Victoria, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

The government does recognise the Australian Electoral Commission's crucial role in safeguarding our democracy. The integrity of the AEC is paramount and it is vital that the organisation maintain the confidence of the community. The appointment of senior AEC officials is therefore an extremely important process. Positions such as the Electoral Commissioner, other members of the commission and Australian electoral officers in the states and territories must be filled by suitably qualified and experienced candidates. Above all, the government must make sound, considered decisions in relation to these appointments. This matter was fully canvassed in the Senate estimates hearing on 20 November. The government does not support the motion but will not be seeking to divide.

Question agreed to.