What we did in 2019–20
During the year we provided timely, accurate information and advice on electoral administration and operations to a range of stakeholders. We also increased awareness of the opportunities and challenges for electoral administration and practice through significant engagement with:
- the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters
- Department of Finance
- other Commonwealth agencies
- state and territory electoral commissions
We provided submissions to parliamentary inquiries, including the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into the conduct of the 2019 federal election.
The AEC provided a comprehensive overarching submission which was supported by senior AEC representatives at private meetings and at a public hearing, and responded to questions on notice.
Submissions were provided to a further three parliamentary inquiries including the:
- Inquiry into Foreign Interference through Social Media
- Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Lowering the Donation Disclosure Threshold) Bill 2019
- Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Donation Reform and Other Measures) Bill 2020
We maintained engagement through the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand (ECANZ) and attended four meetings throughout the year. This included two extraordinary meetings in May and June 2020 on COVID-19 to share information on incorporating health and safety directives into election operations and service delivery. Other engagement included:
- Deputy Electoral Commissioner involvement in a sub-group reporting to ECANZ. This included a focus on developing a national polling place accessibility standard and secondment opportunities between electoral commissions
- participating in the Inter-jurisdictional Working Group on Electoral Integrity and Security chaired by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
- chairing working groups on the:
- National Enrolment Forum
- Temporary Election Staffing Working Group (now a community of practice)
- Indigenous Electoral Participation Group
We participated in the Four Countries Conference, along with counterparts from Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. In July 2019 Australia hosted the event at the Australian High Commission in London, UK. The conference meets every second year to discuss shared challenges— such as cyber security—and to promote best practice in electoral administration. Regular contact has been maintained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
We worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to connect with democracies and developing nations in our region, and to engage them on electoral administration cooperation. The AEC’s international assistance and engagement concentrates on providing technical assistance and training, and capacity building programs. This includes engagement through:
- DFAT schedules of support with the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tokelau, the Kingdom of Tonga and the Republic of Vanuatu
- the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators (PIANZEA) Network
- Building Resources in Governance, Democracy and Elections (BRIDGE)
- support for international delegations and study tours from 33 nations
The AEC’s international services were impacted by COVID-19. Travel restrictions caused many activities to be rescheduled or delivered remotely. Despite this, the AEC and DFAT continued to deliver support and activities appropriate to local contexts and consistent with agreed schedules.