Appearing before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Electoral Matters, the Acting Australian Electoral Commissioner, Mr Tom Rogers, has supported key elements of the Palmer United Party’s submission to the Committee and Clive Palmer’s speech to the National Press Club on 12 February 2014.
Less than 24 hours after Mr Palmer’s Chief of Staff, Phil Collins, reiterated to the Joint Committee many of the flaws evident during the execution of the 2013 election, Mr Rogers admitted “many aspects of the conduct of the 2013 election were manifestly unacceptable” and he was trying to drive cultural change to restore public trust in the AEC.
Mr Palmer said the most important thing was to arrive at a solution that upholds Australia’s democratic system.
“I have been strongly criticised by sections of the media and my political opponents for raising concerns about the AEC in general, and the conduct of the 2013 federal election in particular, but I believe Mr Rogers’ testimony has completely vindicated my position,” Mr Palmer said.
“Despite sustained criticism, I was not afraid to speak out on matters which are fundamental to our democracy and the public’s confidence in our democratic processes,” he said.
“Since last September, part way through the election, I have highlighted on many occasions the failures and shortcomings of the AEC.
“These shortcomings ranged from flawed procedures, such as a lack of checking into the backgrounds of polling and counting staff, inappropriate pre-polling processes, postal voting inconsistencies, a lack of security for ballot boxes and parcels of votes, and electoral roll inaccuracies.
“There were also counting irregularities in the seats of Fairfax and Indi, as well as the loss of 1,370 Western Australian Senate votes necessitating a second Senate election in the State.
“However, I am heartened by Mr Rogers’ recognition the problems I highlighted do actually exist and his acknowledgement that the AEC has “a significant job ahead of us as we go back to basics and focus on our most critical task, successfully, reliably, and safely delivering the next federal election”.
“I appreciate Mr Rogers’ honesty and candour and would be happy to meet with him, or have my staff meet with him, to discuss solutions to the many problems besetting the AEC,” Mr Palmer said.