It illustrates how pathetic the system is when the Minister can only “hope the commission would look at ... investigations ... and if it thought it appropriate, consider taking the matter further” (my emphases added).
The Minister (like all those before him under this defective design of the AEC deliberately introduced by the Labor party in 1984) has abrogated responsibility for the “quality control” of the output of the electoral processes.
I first became aware of this defective design when I wrote a letter of complaint about AEC misconducts to the Special Minister of State in about 2005, attaching my Statutory Declaration proving the vote frauds that I had observed.
Readers need to understand what normally happens when you write to a Minister. Your letter gets sent to the department and comes down the line to a junior bureaucrat, who types up the reply that the bureaucrat thinks the Minister would like to write. The letter then goes to the Branch Head for checking (I was a Branch Head many years). Sometimes it also goes to the Head of the Department for checking. The letter goes back to the Minister’s office, then one of four things happens:- a) the Minister’s staff signs the letter pretending to be the Minister, b) the Minister quickly signs the letter not having read it, c) the Minister reads the letter and signs it, or d) (RARELY) the Minister reads the letter and asks for some changes.
However my point is that the Minister and his staff are exercising a proper “quality control” function over normal government Departments, which thus cannot ‘get away with’ not replying or issuing inappropriate replies to the person who has written in.
But the AEC is not accountable to a Minister like 99% of other normal Government Departments! Questions are never asked in Parliament that may embarrass an AEC official, because the only mechanism of accountability for the AEC is the longwinded and clumsy process through the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM),
The JSCEM comprises MPs and Senators, most of whom do not spend long enough on the committee to understand the issues. Complaints about vote frauds or misconducts by the AEC can be put in submissions to the JSCEM. But it meets long after the election, and complaints about the AEC get buried in the paperwork and in any case do NOT have to be even replied to!
For the election on 7 September 2013, the first public hearing of the JSCEM was five months later on 6 February 2014. There have been 206 written submissions from individuals, organisations and political parties, and 17 days of public hearings till September. The sheer volume of information and paperwork is far too great for any busy MP or Senator to assess, and so most of the processing work is done by the Secretariat bureaucrats who may choose some issues and totally ignore others. It is not like the situation with a letter of complaint to a Minister whereby each and every letter gets addressed individually and responded to.
And the report from the JSCEM will come out long after ONE YEAR after the election, and so many complaints and concerns (of which we have many) are usually buried in a huge long report, or ignored totally. And it all happens with no practical oversight by a Minister. So no wonder the AEC bureaucrats feel comfortable in their arrogant unaccountability, and over the years a culture of arrogance, unaccountability, misconduct and appalling mismanagement has built up in the AEC, and for years we have had atrocious vote frauds and an Electoral Roll with low integrity.
And so back to my complaint about vote frauds and misconduct by the AEC in 2005. The Minister wrote back to me that he had referred my complaint to the AEC, and that they would investigate the matter and reply to me directly. He did not even ask the AEC to investigate and report back to him! The AEC never did reply to me, and so they got away with misconduct, and the vote frauds that I had proven were not investigated.
And now we have the same abrogation of responsibility by the Minister – he “waits on the AEC call to act”, and he does not direct the AEC to fix things, he does not make a call, he merely “hopes”. He commends the AEC on its “decision to move quickly in this case”.
AFHE knew that things were wrong in Indi 3 days after the election.
The AEC starts an investigation ONE YEAR after the election, and gets commended for moving quickly!!
Minister waits on AEC call to act on Indi vote
Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson expects the Australian Electoral Commission to make a call on whether to widen a probe beyond the initial referral to police of 27 voters in the federal seat of Indi.
Senator Ronaldson told the Weekend Australian yesterday he hoped the Commission would look at the outcome of those initial investigations” and , if it thought it appropriate, consider “taking the matter further”.
“The 27 voters at the centre of the investigation represent a small sample of those who may have switched their enrolments to vote for independent Cathy McGowan in Indi in the federal election, despite living elsewhere,” he said.
“The community’s confidence in the commission has suffered significant damage over the last two years. I hope that its decision to move quickly in this case will start to restore confidence in the commission and the system generally.”
Senator Ronaldson’s comments came as Jennifer Podesta, a Labor candidate in a Victorian seat in next month’s state election, said her son had re-enrolled legitimately in Indi from Melbourne last year.
Ms Podesta ran as an independent in the Indi last year and directed her preferences to Ms McGowan.
She said her son had lived in Melbourne for three years while a student at the Australian Ballet and on turning 18 had enrolled to vote there, then had gone overseas to audition for dance companies and had not lived in Melbourne since.
Now based in Slovakia, he had changed his enrolment address last year, “as when he is home … he lives with his family in Wodonga.” Any connection with the investigation of the McGowan campaign is purely coincidental,” she said.
Ms McGowan defeated the Liberal Party incumbent, Sophie Mirabella, by only 439 votes.