Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024


Electoral Commissioner

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD (15:15): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Attorney-General a question about the Electoral Commissioner and the Electoral Commission of South Australia.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD: Currently, as members would be aware, there is a court case investigating voter fraud at the 2022 Adelaide City Council government local elections. As a result of that court case, it was found that two Adelaide Plains councillors were actually incorrectly declared elected at the 2022 local government election. In addition to that, the opposition has also received freedom of information documents detailing complaints of ECSA staff regarding the conduct of the 2022 state election in which staff have claimed to have felt exhausted, unheard and complained of the incompetence of those above them.

In that circumstance, that being the background, we have two very significant elections soon to occur in South Australia: the First Nation's Voice election, the very first one upcoming, and of course the by-election in Dunstan next month, presumably. My question to the Attorney-General is very simple: does the Attorney have confidence in the Electoral Commission and the commissioner to run free and fair elections in South Australia in those circumstances and in that context?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:16): I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, I think the conduct of elections in South Australia, compared with how you see elections happening in many parts around the world, I think we would all agree is remarkably successful and not just the conduct of elections when you have 1.2 or 1.3 million people going to vote at each election.

I am almost surprised every time how little we see in terms of controversy or problems occurring, given it is such a huge undertaking to conduct a state election, and not just the elections themselves but the transfer of power that occurs following elections is something I think we should all be proud of in an Australian and particularly a South Australian context.

In relation to some of the very specific questions that the honourable member asked in terms of staff concerns or complaints, I am not aware of those but I am happy to ask questions and bring back the honourable member a reply. In relation to some of the concerns the honourable member raised into local government elections, the conduct of local government elections falls under the remit of the local government minister. Although the Electoral Commission is an area that falls—although it is independent, it actually falls under myself as Attorney-General.

If there is any further information about the local government elections and the questions the honourable member has raised I am happy to see if the Minister for Local Government has answers as well.