ECQ review released
The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) has been labelled a secretive, authoritarian organisation with myriad management, communication and technology problems.
A review of the 2016 local government elections tabled in State Parliament this week makes 74 recommendations to overhaul the ECQ.
It says the system need urgent change ahead of the next state election, which is expected within eight months.
The review was ordered in response to a large number of complaints about the conduct of the polls, pre-poll voting, counting and communication.
Committee chair, former Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley, said the ECQ’s problems relate “to technology, communication, the postal voting system, the roles and management of Returning Officers, staffing numbers, training of staff and the organisation of the ballot process on the ground”.
He criticised the ECQ's own internal review for having “glossed over many issues and problems within the organisation”.
“The evidence collected points to a management style and culture that is secretive, authoritarian, silo-based and non-consultative,” Mr Soorley said.
“Senior management staff often did not attend, or would leave early from, important meetings regarding election issues and planning.”
The report recommends delaying council elections, having the ECQ urgently appoint a full-time Chief Information Officer and invest in better technology.
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said she either supported or agreed to consider the findings.
“These issues go to the heart of a free and fair democracy and as such are taken very seriously by the Palaszczuk Government, demonstrably committed to openness and transparency,” Ms D'Ath said.
“I look forward to further discussion of the issues identified in this report.
“The commissioner's response indicates that the ECQ either supports or agrees to consider most of the recommendations ahead of the 2020 local government elections.”
Queensland electoral commissioner Walter van der Merwe said there were some good points.
“I am extremely proud of commission staff who delivered these results without receiving any complaints of substance or worthy of consideration for referral to the Court of Disputed Returns,” Mr van der Merwe said.
“As a result, all local governments were provided with electoral services that provided certainty for their constituents and was delivered without imposing significant costs to ratepayers.
“As you will see from my responses to the panel's recommendations, the commission has already begun implementation of some of the recommendations.”