Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn Resigns; WA Electoral Officer Also Goes; Casualties Of Senate Debacle

The Australian Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn, has resigned. The Western Australian Electoral Officer, Peter Kramer, has also quit.

KillesteynKillesteyn’s resignation was announced this afternoon by the Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson. He said Killesteyn has taken personal leave until his resignation takes effect on July 4.

The resignation comes a day after the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, formally voided the Western Australian Senate election. The court ruling followed a petition from the AEC that the election should be thrown out following the loss of around 1300 ballot papers during last year’s count.

Killesteyn’s resignation is an honourable move to accept responsibility that will safeguard the AEC against ongoing criticism. It comes just two months into his second 5-year term as Electoral Commissioner.

The resignation of the Western Australian Electoral Officer, Peter Kramer, complements Killesteyn’s and provides a chain of accountability for last year’s events. Kramer was in the final year of a 5-year term.

Whilst the WA Senate count became a debacle, the AEC appropriately moved to have the declared outcome voided. In a blatant act of self-interest, the Liberals and the ALP petitioned for the initial count to be upheld. They were joined by Clive Palmer’s party which gained a seat on the initial count. Only the Greens called for the count to thrown out, despite their candidate being successful in the recount.

Clive Palmer released a statement following the resignations and called for a parliamentary investigation into the AEC. He repeated his bizarre claims about “the AEC’s bias in distributing preferences and the serious defects that exist including the lack of voter identification and using pencils instead of electronic voting”.

Palmer said his party “is the last sentry at the gate to protect democracy for all Australians and to preserve the legacy of the Anzacs”.

The parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is currently conducting its traditional inquiry into the conduct of the federal election.

Statement from Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson.

Resignation of the Electoral Commissioner, Mr Ed Killesteyn PSM

I have today received a letter from the Electoral Commissioner, Mr Ed Killesteyn, stating that he has formally tendered his resignation to the Governor General.

Mr Killesteyn has had a long and distinguished career in the public service and I wish him well for the future.

Mr Killesteyn is currently on personal leave and will remain so until his resignation takes effect on 4 July this year.

The Deputy Electoral Commission, Mr Tom Rogers, will act as Electoral Commissioner. Events in Western Australia mean that the Australian Electoral Commission must regain the confidence of the community. The Government will in due course announce a new Electoral Commissioner who will be charged with the restoration of that confidence.

Statement from Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson.

Resignation of the Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia, Mr Peter Kramer

Today I have been informed that the Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia, Mr Peter Kramer, has formally tendered his resignation to the Governor General.

Mr Kramer has advised that his resignation will take effect from 9 May 2014 with his last day on duty being 28 February 2014.

Until such time as a new appointment is made, I am advised that Ms Kathy Mitchell will act as the Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia.

Statement from Clive Palmer on behalf of the Palmer United Party.

Federal Parliament Needs to Examine AEC: Clive Palmer

Palmer United Party federal leader and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, has called for a parliamentary investigation into the Australian Electoral Commission following the resignation of AEC Commissioner Ed Killesteyn.

Mr Palmer said Mr Killesteyn’s decision to quit in the wake of the Senate election debacle in Western Australia did not change fundamental problems with Australia’s electoral system.

“The commissioner has made a fine example of accepting responsibility and it is important that responsibility is accepted for these sorts of mistakes otherwise people will be encouraged to do them again and we need to be ever vigilant to protect our democracy,” Mr Palmer said.

“We must be able to trust those we’ve trusted with supervising our elections to be of the highest integrity and competence in our community.

“At the National Press Club address I gave last week in Canberra, I outlined what is wrong with the system such as the AEC’s bias in distributing preferences and the serious defects that exist including the lack of voter identification and using pencils instead of electronic voting.

“Despite the resignation of the AEC Commissioner, those issues remain unchanged and those issues need to be attended to.

“I am now calling on the parliamentary committee responsible for elections to address those issues in the shortest possible time so Australia can return to a democratic process.

“The pending WA Senate election remains a concern that the system operating is truly transparent and truly democratic.

“The Palmer United Party is the last sentry at the gate to protect democracy for all Australians and to preserve the legacy of the Anzacs.”

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