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Australian Electoral Office - Report - Year - 1981-82


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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL OFFICE

Annual Report

1981-82

Presented by Com m and 21 October 1982

Ordered to be p rin te d 27 October 1982

Parliamentary Paper No. 264/1982

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AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL OFFICE ANNUAL REPORT 1981-82

AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL OFFICE

ANNUAL REPORT FOR 1981-82

A U S T R A LIA N G O V E R N M E N T P U B LIS H IN G SERVICE CAN BERRA 1982

© Commonwealth of Australia, 1S82

ISSN 0158-5932

Printed by Watson Ferguson and Co., Brisbane

Australian Electoral Office, Wales Centre, Akuna Street, Canberra City, A.C.T. 2600

September 1982

Dear Minister, I am pleased to submit to you the annual report of the Australian Electoral Office for the year ended 30 June 1982.

Yours sincerely,

(K. W. PEARSON)

Chief Australian Electoral Officer

The Hon. Kevin Newman, M.P., Minister for Administrative Services, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600

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INTRODUCTION

Australia has had an Electoral Office since 1902. Initially a branch of the Department of Home Affairs, the Office functioned for the next seventy years as a branch of various Commonwealth departments—from 1916, the Department of Home Affairs and Territories; from 1932, the Department of the Interior; and from 1972, the Department of Services and

Property. In 1973, the Australian Electoral Office Act established the Office as a statutory authority responsible to the Minister for Services and Property (since 1975, the Minister for Administrative Services). The Act provides for eight Statutory Officers—the Chief Australian

Electoral Officer, the Deputy Chief Australian Electoral Officer and an Australian Electoral Officer for each of the six States (see Appendix A )—and for staff to be employed under the provisions of the Public Service Act 1 922. The Chief Australian Electoral Officer is responsible to the Minister for the control of the Australian Electoral Office. He has all the powers of a Permanent Head under the Public Service Act 1922 in relation to the staff of the Office.

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ORGANISATION AND FUNCTIONS

Together, the Commonwealth Electoral A ct 1918 and the Australian Electoral Office Act 1973 provide the Australian Electoral Office with a three-tiered organisation for the administration of Commonwealth electoral legislation.

C h ie f A u stralian E lectoral O ffic e r

The Australian Electoral Office maintains a Central Office in Canberra. The Chief Australian Electoral Officer, under the Minister, controls the Australian Electoral Office. In this he is assisted by the Deputy Chief Australian Electoral Officer. In addition to supervising and co-ordinating the performance of all the Office's enrolment and election activities, the Chief Australian Electoral Officer advises the Minister for Administrative Services as required on matters relevant to electoral policy, legislation and procedure, supervises the nationwide dissemination of electoral information, oversights electoral education programs, and controls the conduct of such research as is necessary from time to time to support the Office's other activities.

A ustralian E lectoral O ffic e rs

The Australian Electoral Office has a Head Office in each State capital city. The Australian Electoral Officer for each State directs all of the Office's activities within the State, including the conduct of Senate and House of Representatives elections. The Australian Electoral Officer in each of the four joint roll States (New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania) is responsible for the day to day operation of the Commonwealth—State arrangement for the joint preparation, alteration and revision of electoral rolls in force in that State.

D ivisional R eturning O ffic e rs

Each State is divided into a number of Electoral Divisions, corresponding to the number of Members of the House of Representatives, with a Divisional Returning Officer appointed for each Division. The Australian Capital Territory is divided into two Electoral Divisions; the Northern

Territory is one Division. A Returning Officer is appointed for each of these Divisions. In the Northern Territory an Assistant Returning Officer, located in Alice Springs, is appointed as well. Divisional Returning Officers and Returning Officers arrange for and conduct elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Electoral Divisions in each State are divided into Subdivisions. Subdivisions in the Northern Territory are called 'Districts'. The two A C T. Divisions are not subdivided. Each Divisional Returning Officer is the Electoral Registrar for all of the Subdivisions within his Division. As Electoral Registrar he is the officer responsible for keeping the electoral roll constantly up to date. In the A C T. the Returning Officers are the Electoral

Registrars for their Divisions, while in the Northern Territory the Returning Officer is the Electoral Registrar for 14 Districts and the Assistant Returning Officer is appointed for the remaining five. The high level of enrolment activity reported in the Annual Reports for 1979/80 and

1980/81 continued through 1981/82. There were 9,236,881 electors enrolled in all

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Divisions as of 30 June 1982. During the preceding twelve months a total of 2,540,252 roll transactions were required. This was an average of 20,322 transactions in each Division, or about 81 per working day. (For enrolment figures from 1978 to 1982 see Appendix B.) In addition to processing enrolment transactions, Divisional Returning Officers conduct

Habitation Reviews'. The staff employed for this task, known as review officers, systematically visit households throughout all urban areas in order to check the enrolment details of electors recorded as living at those habitations. This procedure is designed to ensure that all qualified persons are correctly enrolled.

In more remote areas, an Electoral Agency system is used to check enrolments. Electoral Agents regularly review lists of the electors enrolled for a particular locality. These Agents, usually police or postal officials, are chosen because of their familiarity with the movement of electors within such localities.

As the most immediate contact points for electors, Divisional Offices are also concerned with the dissemination of electoral information and educational material. This information and material is designed to ensure, among other things, that electors are aware of their rights and responsibilities; and, at the time of an election, procedures for recording a formal vote, ways to apply for postal votes and the locations of polling places.

R eview o f C o m m o n w ealth Fun ctio ns

Following the Review of Commonwealth Functions, Cabinet decided that the management support services of the Australian Electoral Office should be centralised within the Management Services Division of the Department of Administrative Services. Proposals are now in final form and should soon be put into effect.

O ffic e m an ag em en t and im provem ents

Accommodation Together with the Departments of Administrative Services and Transport and Construction, the Office is reviewing the accommodation standards in Divisional Offices. The purpose of the review is to create national guidelines on such questions as the size of the office, public

access and facilities, furniture standards and storage for material. This review is expected to be concluded in 1 982/83.

Financial services A revised accounting procedure for payment of habitation review officers was satisfactorily introduced in 1981/82. Revised financial procedures for conducting the National Aboriginal Conference elections were also introduced in 1981 /82.

Automatic data processing

A team made up of officers of both the Australian Electoral Office and the Department of Administrative Services ADP Section has completed a comprehensive study of the Office's information requirements. The results of this study are now being used by the team to design new ADP systems which will meet the major information and data processing needs of the

Australian Electoral Office. The design is expected to include an on-line network connecting all Divisional Offices, Head Offices and Central Office with computer systems to support roll maintenance, polling results collation and distribution, election arrangements, employment of polling officials and provision of management information.

The Office continues to use common service ADP arrangements (mainly for roll maintenance) in conjunction with the Department of Administrative Services. Limited use is made of the CSIRONET computer facilities for statistical analysis and other research purposes.

Area Manager—Newcastle The Area Manager (North) in New South Wales moved to Newcastle in November 1981. His location there has enabled him to maintain a closer liaison with Divisional Offices in the northern areas of New South Wales.

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Conferences In an organisation such as the Australian Electoral Office which is spread over 133 different locations in six States and two Territories, it is essential to maintain close communication and co-ordination. To assist in this and to stimulate the exchange of ideas and experiences, annual conferences have been developed over the last few years. During 1981/82 conferences were held for the Australian Electoral Officers and representatives from the Operations and Management Services areas.

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LEGISLATION

A list of the Acts administered by the Australian Electoral Office is provided in Appendix C.

C itizen sh ip A m en dm ent to th e C o m m o n w e a lth E lectoral A ct

Part IX of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 1981 provides that Australian citizenship will be the nationality qualification for both electoral enrolment and membership of the Australian Parliament. British subjects who are not Australian citizens but who are on the roll at the proclamation date will retain their entitlement to the franchise and will continue to be subject to the compulsory enrolment and voting provisions of the Act.

The amendment has not yet been proclaimed and complementary legislation by the State Governments is anticipated.

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BY-ELECTIONS

During the 1981 /82 financial year it was necessary to conduct a by-election in the Division of Lowe (New South Wales) foHowing the resignation of the Right Honourable Sir William McMahon G.C.M.G., C.H. The Speaker of the House of Representatives issued the Writ on 25 January 1982 for the conduct of the by-election and rolls for the by-election closed at 6.00 p.m. that day.

Nominations closed on 15 February 1982, with 12 candidates nominating. Polling day was Saturday 13 March 1982. Of the 71,140 electors enrolled, 63,388 voted in the by-election, a turnout of 89.1 per cent. The poll was declared on 23 March 1982.

The Australian Labor Party's candidate, Mr Michael Maher, won the by-election, thereby changing the representation in the thirty-second Parliament to Australian Labor Party 52, Liberal Party 53 and National Country Party 20. Preferences were not distributed since Mr Maher was elected with an absolute majority.

Because the Office was concerned at the low turnout at the previous by-election in New South Wales (in the Division of Wentworth), a new advertising strategy was developed. This was based particularly on the results of a survey conducted at Wentworth where many electors claimed that they had not been aware of the by-election.

It was decided to arrange for Australia Post to deliver to every household two enveloped messages clearly originating from the Australian Electoral Office. The first related to postal voting and close of the roll and was delivered ten days before the issue of the Writ. The second gave information on how to cast a formal vote and the location of polling places and was delivered in the week preceding polling day. The Office was aided in this exercise in that there was a significant lead time prior to the by-election.

The turnout of voters was slightly higher than the average turnout of 87.8 per cent for all previous by-elections held since compulsory voting was introduced in 1924. Although it is quite likely there were other factors influencing the turnout, it is considered that the new technique proved its worth. If possible, it will be adopted for by-elections in the future as they do not normally attract the same intensive media coverage as do general elections.

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NATIONAL ABORIGINAL CONFERENCE ELECTION

General electio n

The Australian Electoral Office, in conjunction with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, arranged and conducted the second General Election of Members of the National Aboriginal Conference in October 1981. The election was conducted under rules approved by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in consultation with the Minister for Administrative Services.

Some 251 nominations were received for the 36 single—member electorates. Ballots were required in 35 of these. 34,506 votes (34,086 formal and 420 informal) were cast in the polling which utilised 397 fixed polling places and 67 mobile polling teams. This represented 43 per cent of the estimated population eligible to vote in this voluntary election. The election is conducted

under a first-past-the-post system.

N e w electio n

The Australian Electoral Office also conducted, in conjunction with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, a new election in one NAC electorate (area NSE in New South Wales) in June 1982. The new election followed acceptance by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Minister for Administrative Services of a recommendation by the Disputes Committee which was formed to hear complaints lodged after the October 1981 election.

A total of 986 Aboriginal people voted for the 14 candidates who stood for election in NSE. This was more than a 50 per cent increase in voters over the turnout in NSE at the election in October 1981.

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A.C.T. HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTION

The Australian Electoral Office conducted an election in June 1982 for all 18 members of the A.C.T. House of Assembly. Nine members were returned under a system of proportional representation from each of the two A.C.T. Divisions of Canberra and Fraser. The Minister for the Capital Territory issued his Direction (the equivalent of the Writ in a

Federal election) on 5 May 1982 for conduct of the election and the rolls for the election closed at 6.00 p.m. that day. Nominations closed on 15 May 1982 and a total of 50 candidates nominated (22 in the Division of Canberra and 28 in the Division of Fraser). Polling day was Saturday 5 June 1982.

The House of Assembly (Election) Regulations, under which this election was conducted, provide for the registration of political parties and for the appearance of party names on ballot papers, including identification of candidates as 'Independent'. Voting in House of Assembly elections is compulsory for all electors on the A.C.T. electoral rolls. The ballot is conducted under an optional preferential system with voters only required to show their preferences for at least the number of candidates to be elected, namely 9 candidates.

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OTHER ELECTORAL ACTIVITIES

In d u s tria l electio n s

The Industrial Registrar referred 417 industrial elections to the Australian Electoral Office under the provisions of section 170 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 during the year 1981 /82 (see Appendix D ).

S ecret s trik e b allots

In late October 1981 the Australian Electoral Officer for Victoria conducted a ballot, ordered by the Federal Court of Australia pursuant to section 45 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904, of striking union members employed in the vehicle industry to determine their wishes regarding the resumption of work.

A m alg am atio n b allots

Four ballots of members of industrial organisations were conducted in accordance with the provisions of section 1 58K of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1 904, to determine their views on proposals for amalgamation of their organisations. The ballots were conducted by Australian Electoral Office staff in New South Wales (2), Victoria (1) and Tasmania (1).

M iscellaneo u s organisations

The Australian Electoral Office conducted a number of elections for miscellaneous organisations during the year:

. A.C.T. Physiotherapists Board—practitioner representatives • A C T. Nurses Board—nurses' representatives • A.C.T. Veterinary Surgeons Board—practitioner representatives

N o rfo lk Island Legislative A ssem bly election

Mr L.. A. G. Heaton, Assistant Director, Industrial Elections Section, visited Norfolk Island from 25 to 30 January 1 982 at the request of the Department of Home Affairs, to assist the Returning Officer with the conduct of the election of nine members of the Legislative Assembly.

The election was held on Wednesday 27 January 1982. Twenty-two candidates contested the nine seats with the results being determined under the Hare-Clark system of proportional representation. Of the 892 eligible voters, 854 voted (791 formal votes and 63 informal).

B allot boxes and screens Contracts let during 1979/80 for the production of new polypropylene ballot boxes and voting screens are nearing completion. Prototype screens were used in the A C T. House of Assembly election in June 1 982 and production of the contracted quantities is to commence

in July. Modifications to the moulding tool for the ballot boxes are proceeding and production of these units is expected to be completed before the end of 1982

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ELECTORAL INFORMATION, EDUCATION AND RESEARCH

A b o rigin al education '

The Australian Electoral Office continued the Aboriginal Electoral Education Program during 1981 /82. The program, which began in 1979 and now operates in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, is centred around the field work of three mobile education teams.

The teams visit Aboriginal communities and provide people with information about their electoral rights and responsibilities, and about the operation of the Australian electoral and parliamentary systems. Particular attention is given to the needs of communities in remote areas and those where the people follow a largely traditional lifestyle.

Arrangements for the operation of these teams were made in consultation with the Governments of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

M o b ile display

Two additional mobile display units were purchased during the year. The themes of the accompanying posters, photographs and multi-lingual material cover compulsory enrol­ ment and voting. One unit was successfully used in shopping centres in the Division of Lowe during the pre—enrolment period for the by-election and that unit is currently being

used at agricultural shows in the Northern Territory and Queensland. The second new unit is being used for promotional and publicity activities in shopping centres in Western Australia.

M a p catalogue and m ic ro film in g p ro je c t

A catalogue of Commonwealth electoral maps showing the holdings of the major Australian libraries and other institutions should be published late in 1 982. As an outcome of this catalogue, it has been discovered that no single institution or library has a complete set of these maps and some of the maps are in a poor state of preservation. The Office has, as a consequence of this, commenced a project to record all maps of proclaimed boundaries on microfilm.

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Appendix A

S ta tu to ry o ffic e holders under th e A U S T R A L IA N E LE C TO R A L O F F IC E A C T 1973

Position Name

Appoint­ ment Date

Expiry Date

Chief Australian Electoral Officer PEARSON, Keith William 1.10.76 30. 9.83

Deputy Chief Australian Electoral Officer 4 CIRULIS, Andrejs 1. 8.78 31. 7.85

Australian Electoral Officer for New South Wales Australian Electoral Officer for Victoria

Vacant*

ABBOTT, Laurence John 1. 7.80“ 30. 6.87

Australian Electoral Officer for Queensland COLEMAN, Francis Joseph 1. 1.77 31.12.83

Australian Electoral Officer for South Australia WALSH, Albert Jack 1. 7.80“ 30. 6.87

Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia YOUNG, Barry George 1. 7.81 30. 6.88

Australian Electoral Officer for Tasmania LENNARD, John Richard 23. 3.81“ * 22. 3.88

* Mr C. I. White, who was appointed as Australian Electoral Officer for New South Wales on 31 January 1977, retired from the Australian Electoral Office on 31 March 1982 ** Initially appointed 1.7.1973 " * Initially appointed 23.3.1974

Appendix B

N um ber o f electors enrolled— S ta te s and T e rrito rie s as at 30 J u n e 1978—82

1978 7 979 1980 1981 1982

New South Wales 3 099 259 3 095 268 3 153 981 3 211 224 3 230 568

Victoria 2 307 786 2 371 637 2 372 063 2 425 900 2 486 494

Queensland 1 261 006 1 284 844 1 335 895 1 379 989 1 415 688

South Australia 821 116 828 344 842 707 855 674 856 812

Western Australia 694 373 708 629 739 525 754 387 765 597

Tasmania 263 275 264 305 273 083 277 490 285 870

Australian Capital Territory 126934 132 724 133 510 139 745 140 295

Northern Territory 46 386 44 872 54 198 55 622 55 557

Australia 8 6 2 0 1 3 5 8 730 623 8 904 962 9 100 031 9 236 881

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Appendix C

A cts a d m in istered by th e A u s tra lia n E lectoral O ffic e under th e d irectio n o f th e M in is te r fo r A d m in is tra tiv e S ervices

Representation Act 1905 Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906 Commonwealth Electoral Act 1 91 8 Northern Territory Representation Act 1 922 Representation Act 1948 Australian Electoral Office Act 1973 Senate (Representation of Territories) Act 1973 Australian Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Act 1 973 Australian Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Act 1 974

Commonwealth Electoral (Redistribution) Act 1 977

Appendix D

S ection 170 o f th e C on ciliatio n an d A rb itra tio n A c t 1904— In d u strial Elections: N um ber re fe rre d by In d u s tria l R eg istrar fo r co nd u ct by th e A ustralian Electoral O ffic e during years ended 30 J u n e 1978—82.

1977/78 1978/79 1979/80 1980/81 1981/82

New South Wales 79 81 89 85 89

Victoria 71 85 88 87 98

Queensland 36 37 49 39 36

South Australia 34 51 46 53 55

Western Australia 38 32 34 33 40

Tasmania 46 34 44 38 54

Australian Capital Territory 24 29 21 29 31

Northern Territory 10 7 8 11 14

Australia 338 356 379 375 417

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Publications

Appendix E

Books General Election for the House o f Representatives 1980—Result of Count of First Preference Votes and Distribution of Preferences, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1981.

The Senate Election 18 October 1980—Result of Count of First Preference Votes and Distribution of Surplus Votes and Preferences, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1981. General Election for the House of Representatives 1980—Analysis o f Result of Count of First Preference Votes, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1981.

The Senate Election 18 October 1980—Analysis of Result of Count of First Preference Votes, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1981. Election Statistics: Senate Election and General Election of Members of the House of Representatives, 10 December 1977, Australian Government Publishing Service,

Canberra, 1978. Election Statistics: Senate Election and General Election of Members of the House of Representatives, 18 October 1980'. A Summary of Commonwealth Election and Referendum Statistics 1901—1975,

Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1976. Commonwealth Electoral Procedures and other Information relating to Electoral and Election Matters, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1976. Referendum Statistics, 21 May 1977, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1 980.

You Can Have Your Say (three editions—Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory), Australian Electoral Office and Education Department of Western Australia, 1980. An explanation of enrolment and voting procedures for use in the Aboriginal Electoral Education Program. instructor’s Guide to You Can Have Your Say (three editions—Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory), Australian Electoral Office and Education Department of Western Australia, 1980. An instructor's handbook to assist in the explanation of enrolment and voting procedures for use in the Aboriginal Electoral Education Program. Candidates Information Handbook, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra,

1980. Australian Capital Territory House of Assembly Elections: Candidates Information Handbook, Australian Electoral Office, 1982.

Pamphlets Your Electoral Rights and Responsibilities (multi-lingual pamphlet in English, Italian, Greek, Serbian, Croatian, Spanish, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese), Australian Electoral Office, Canberra, 1982*. Parliament, Elections and You, Australian Electoral Office, Canberra, 1979.

Voting Information (multi—lingual pamphlet in English, Italian, Greek, Serbian, Croatian, Spanish, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese), Australian Electoral Office, Canberra, 1 982*. Marking Your Ballot Paper(s) (multi-lingual pamphlet in English, Italian, Greek, Serbian, Croatian, Spanish, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese) Australian Electoral Office, Canberra, 1982*.

* In the process of being printed

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Films

You Can Have Your Say, Film Australia, 1979. 16 mm 15 mins, sound, colour. A film on enrolment and voting procedures for use in the Aboriginal Electoral Education Program. Electing Australia's Federal Parliament, Film Australia, 1981.16 mm, 26 mins, sound, colour, shows the procedures adopted in conducting the 1980 Federal election from the issue of the Writ to the Declaration of the Poll.

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