4.1 - Confidence in the electoral system and political parties
This commitment will enhance the integrity of, and confidence in, Australia’s electoral system.
This commitment will advance the OGP values of accountability, transparency and access to information by:
reducing the risk of undemocratic behaviour and conduct, which leads to the perception or reality of corrupt behaviour by politicians and political parties; and
increasing public confidence in Australian democracy.
The Government asked Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) to investigate a range of matters relating to the 2016 federal election
The JSCEM tabled three interim reports to date:
- Interim Report on the authorisation of voter communication (tabled 9 December 2016)
- Second interim report on the inquiry into the conduct of the 2016 federal election: Foreign Donations (tabled 10 March 2017), and
- Third interim report on the inquiry into the conduct of the 2016 federal election: AEC modernisation (tabled 21 June 2017).
A final report - Report on the conduct of the 2016 federal election and matters related thereto - was tabled on 5 December 2018.
These reports were based on an extensive public consultation process, which involved the receipt of 224 public submissions and 21 public hearings at locations across Australia.
Following a series of referrals to the High Court, the Prime Minister also asked the JSCEM to investigate options for assuring the public that all members of the Parliament are constitutionally eligible to serve. The JSCEM has finalised the following reports relating to eligibility under Section 44 of the Constitution:
- Inquiry into decisions made by the Court of Disputed Returns (tabled 6 February 2018), and
- Excluded: the impact of section 44 on Australian democracy (tabled 17 May 2018).
Informed by JSCEM’s findings, the Government is taking action to enhance integrity and confidence in Australia’s electoral system.
On 15 September, 2017, the Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (Authorisation Amendment Act) became law. The Authorisation Amendment Act addresses many of the recommendations of the JSCEM First Interim Report, and is expected to contribute to this commitment by enhancing the transparency of communication with voters.
On 30 November 2018 the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Act 2018 (Foreign Donations Act) became law, addressing the second JSCEM interim report. The Foreign Donations Act contains a range of measures that seek to improve public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system by:
- improving the transparency of political finance, and
- preventing undue influence on Australian democracy, and the perception thereof.
The Government has also addressed the issues around mechanisms to assure the public that all members of the Parliament are constitutionally eligible to serve. The Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Eligibility) Regulations 2018 introduced a voluntary checklist to change and improve the nomination process for candidates, effective from 30 May 2018. The change added an eligibility checklist to the candidate nomination forms, which candidates may choose to complete upon nomination. The Government introduced legislation on 6 December 2018 – the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Modernisation and Other Measures) Bill 2018 - making it compulsory for candidates nominating at the next federal election to complete a checklist demonstrating their eligibility under section 44 of the Constitution.
Government: Australian Electoral Commission, Attorney-General’s Department, JSCEM.
Non-Government: JSCEM is anticipated to engage with political parties, non-government organisations and the public.
Steps to implementation
|Implementation Step||Implementation Period||Status|
JSCEM inquiry and reporting.
The original timelines assumed the JSCEM would conclude its inquiries in 2017. However, the JSCEM continues to work with civil society through further public hearings, with additional reports expected to be tabled 2018. Accordingly, the shift in timeframes reflect the Parliament’s continued work on matters relating to the integrity of, and confidence in, Australia’s electoral system.
|2016-2018 (further progress subject to Committee reporting)||Completed|
Government considers recommendations.
The shift in timeframes reflect the Parliament’s continued work on matters relating to the integrity of, and confidence in, Australia’s electoral system (see above).
|2017 - 2018 (subject to JSCEM reporting)||Delayed|
Parliament and other relevant stakeholders address Government decisions.
Status updates for commitments are provided approximately every two months. With each update, agencies are encouraged to provide further and better particulars of the commitment and its steps to implementation, which may result in changes to timelines outlined in Australia’s first Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18.