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Wednesday, 15 May 1985
Page: 2033

(Question No. 120)

Senator Colston asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice, on 22 March 1985:

Are instructions given to Australian Electoral Commission officers on the way scrutineers are to be treated; if so, what are those instructions; if not, will the commission consider giving instructions to ensure that scrutineers are treated with courtesy.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Electoral Commissioner has advised that the rights and obligations of scrutineers as set out in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 are further elaborated in the Commission's official publications, notably in the Scrutineers Handbook, made freely available to candidates in an election, and in the Polling Booth Control Manual issued to each Assistant Returning Officer.

No specific instructions about the treatment of scrutineers have been considered necessary as Commission officers and polling officials are expected to treat electors, scrutineers or any other member of the public with normal courtesy. The Commission is not unmindful, however, of occasional difficulties which can arise when employing a temporary workforce of 65,000 people and is constantly seeking to enhance its recruitment and training measures. While there can be no excuse for rudeness, there is the possibility of an unfortunate exchange occurring but such occurrences are, in the Commission's experience, rare. If the honourable senator's question has been prompted by his knowledge of a specific compliant he may care to bring the relevant details to the attention of the Electoral Commission.