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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1079

Senator McMULLAN —Yesterday Senator Short pursued with Senator Bolkus who had previously, in a representative capacity to me, taken on notice a question to the Minister for Administrative Services. I now have an answer to that question. It is a bit lengthy, so I seek leave to incorporate the answer in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The answer read as follows

On 20 December 1993 the Australian Electoral Commission received a letter dated 16 December 1993 from Ms. J. Beacham, the Agent of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party which advised of `a matter which had been brought to my attention regarding the return from the Calwell FEA. Bill Albon has sent me the attached letter drawing our attention to an item not included in their return'. A copy of the letter was attached.

The letter from Mr. Albon to Ms. Beacham was dated 14 December 1993 and referred to an omission in the area of funds raised in relation to a public fund raising function by the Chinese Students Human Rights Organisation on 31 January 1993. In that letter Mr. Albon said: "I became aware of the omission when last month, as campaign director I prepared for and had endorsed by the Calwell FEA executive a full and total statement of all election campaign accounts."

On 5 January 1994 the Commission wrote to Mr. Albon seeking further information about the fund raising and the donors. Mr. Albon provided the information in a letter dated 11 January 1994. Both the Commission's letter to Mr. Albon and Mr. Albon's response were copied to Ms. Beacham.

On 19 January 1994 the Commission wrote to Ms. Beacham with a number of queries related to the Annual Return, including advice that Mr. Albon had provided the information necessary to insert in the return. Ms. Beacham was asked to confirm in writing that she wished the return to be amended by inclusion of the information provided by Mr. Albon. In accordance with section 319A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, a person who has furnished a return may request permission of the Electoral Commission to make a specified amendment to the return for the purpose of correcting an error or omission. Such requests must be made in writing and can only be made by the person who furnished the return. The Electoral Commission has authority to correct formal errors or remove defects in returns. The insertion of additional information is not considered a formal error or defect and therefore must be requested by Ms. Beacham as the Agent who furnished the return.

Ms. Beacham made a request to include the information provided by Mr. Albon in the annual return by letter dated 18 May 1994. The Return was amended in line with that request on 20 May 1994. I am advised that all appropriate procedures have been completed in accordance with the law.