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Disclosure of Political Activities Fact Sheet


What does the VEC do and why is independence important?Top

The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) is an independent and impartial statutory authority responsible for the conduct of Victorian Parliamentary elections, local council elections and other statutory, commercial and community elections. The VEC is also responsible for the maintenance of the Victorian register of electors, the promotion of public awareness on electoral matters, the conduct and promotion of electoral research, and the conduct of local government boundary reviews. Given that the VEC is responsible for the management of the electoral process through which Government is elected, it is important that it maintains a high level of public trust and confidence in its independence and impartiality. The VEC must ensure that all staff and contractors are politically neutral in the manner that they carry out their duties, so that there is a clear perception of their neutrality within the community.

Electoral Act 2002 - s17A Application of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010Top

Equal opportunity laws exist to promote equal opportunity and eliminate discrimination in Victoria. In relation to the workplace, these laws ensure that in seeking employment, applicants are not discriminated against on the basis of the following attributes: age; gender identity; breastfeeding; impairment; industrial activity; employment activity; lawful sexual activity; marital status; parental status or status as a carer; physical features; political belief and activity, pregnancy; race; religious belief or activity; sex; and sexual orientation.

Section 17A of the Electoral Act 2002 provides that (in accordance with section 75 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010) the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) may discriminate against a person in relation to offering employment (or appointment as a member of the Audit Committee of the Commission) on the basis of that person's political belief or activity.

Why does the VEC need special employment provisions?Top

It is essential that all VEC employees, members of its Audit Committee, contractors and election officials are, and are seen to be, truly independent and impartial in the conduct of their official duties. The appointment of a person to any position within the VEC whose current or previous actions could give rise to a perception of political bias potentially compromises the perceived independence of the VEC. This does not imply that the VEC believes that a person would not be capable of impartial conduct - it is more the case of how this may be perceived by a candidate for election, political party or members of the public. Section 17A of the Electoral Act 2002 enables the VEC to ask applicants for disclosure of specific political activities. Disclosure of this information does not necessarily mean that an applicant for employment will not be employed. Disclosure will however, give the VEC the opportunity to consider whether it would be suitable for the applicant to work in certain areas or on certain elections. For example, a person who had been involved in lobbying their local council on a particular issue may be excluded from working on projects related to that particular council.

The VEC issued guidelines in the Victorian Government Gazette published on 10 November 2011 which set out the criteria to be applied in relation to refusing employment or appointment to roles at the VEC. These guidelines are as follows:

What information should you disclose?Top

If you are the preferred applicant for a role at the VEC, you will be asked to make any relevant disclosures. Specifically, the VEC would like to know if you:

  • are or have been a member of any political party in the State, Territory or Commonwealth in the past 15 years;
  • have been involved in a course of conduct within the past 15 years directed to supporting the aims of a political party or an independent candidate in a State, Territory or Federal election;
  • have held the office of councillor for a Victorian local council within the past 15 years;
  • have been involved in a course of conduct directed towards supporting the political aims of a local councillor within the past 15 years;
  • have publicly engaged in conduct promoting a political position in respect of an issue currently before the electorate in the election for which you are to be employed; or
  • are a member of a lobby group (not being a union or professional association), which promotes a political position in respect of an issue currently before the electorate in the election for which you are to be employed.

Unsure what you should disclose?Top

It is best to disclose anything that could possibly be relevant for the VEC's consideration and let the VEC make that consideration. It may not be relevant to the area or role for which you are being employed.

How do you disclose any relevant information?Top

If you are the preferred applicant, you will be offered the role subject to satisfactory assessment of your disclosure against the criteria listed above. The Electoral Commissioner or his delegate will assess your disclosure. A form for this purpose will be provided when you become the preferred applicant. The disclosure assessment will determine if any activities you have disclosed have the potential to compromise the VEC's independence and impartiality. All disclosures will be kept private and handled in accordance with the VEC's Privacy Policy - which can be viewed at vec.vic.gov.au/About/VEC-privacy.html.

How is your disclosure assessed?Top

A number of factors are considered as part of the assessment:

  • an applicant who does not complete the form will not be appointed;
  • any activity consistent with criteria (1) or (2) will automatically exclude the applicant from a role with the VEC;
  • any activity consistent with criteria (3) to (6) will be considered in terms of the role being sought; the nature of the activity and its potential to compromise the independence and impartiality of the VEC, and the time the activity took place; and
  • where applicants have not engaged in any activities consistent with criteria (1) to (6), the appointment will proceed.
Not sure whether your past or present activities should prevent you from applying for a role?

Please call the key contact person nominated in the VEC employment advertisement and ask for advice.

Do you disagree with the VEC's assessment of your disclosure?

If you have disclosed information which the VEC considered capable of compromising its independence and you have been denied a role as a result, you may request to have the decision reviewed by lodging a written request to:

  • Electoral Commissioner
    Level 11, 530 Collins Street,
    Melbourne, Vic. 3000
    or fax it to (03) 9629 8624.
Where the decision was made by the Commissioner's delegate, the Commissioner will review the decision.

Where the decision was made by the Commissioner, the matter will be referred to a member of the VEC's Audit Committee for review.

Any complaints in relation to the VEC's adherence to its stated processes in dealing with disclosures should be directed in writing to:

  • The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
    GPO Box 5408
    Melbourne Vic 3001
    Tel: (03) 9628 9900 Fax: (03) 8685 1404
    Email: vcat-hrd@justice.vic.gov.au

Further informationTop

For further information please contact

  • HR Management
    Victorian Electoral Commission
    Level 11, 530 Collins St
    Melbourne VIC 3000
    Tel: 131 832
    ©2012 Victorian Electoral Commission



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