13 January 2020

NSWALC Lodged Formal Complaint with Electoral Commission

During December 2019, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council lodged a formal complaint with the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) over its handling of the 2019 NSWALC Election.

In the complaint, the Council specifically referred to an admission from NSWEC that 19 ballot papers lodged at a pre-poll centre in Casino  on 21 November were not properly secured. As a result, the Electoral Commissioner determined those ballot papers were to be rejected as informal and were also not included in the distribution of preferences.

"The NSWALC Election is a once in every four years' opportunity for our Network to have a say in the future of Land Rights in New South Wales and quite clearly, a significant number of people in the North Coast region were denied that right," NSWALC Chief Executive James Christian said.

"Under the principles of self-determination our members cast their votes in good faith and had a right to expect that they would be counted and recognised as part of a fair, equitable and transparent election process. They have been let down by the Electoral Commissioner and his organisation."

NSWEC responded to NSWALC's concerns in a letter from the Electoral Commissioner on 18 December 2019.

"It is deeply regrettable that a group of voters from this region were compromised by such an oversight and I understand you wish to advocate on behalf of voters who may have been impacted," NSWEC Electoral Commissioner John Schmidt said.

"Although I acknowledge the result in the North Coast region was close, I have been advised that treating the affected ballot papers as formal would not have made any difference to the candidate who was elected."

Councillor Dallas Donnelly was elected to represent the North Coast region when the poll was declared on 6 December 2019.


Contact: NSW Aboriginal Land Council, 02 9689 4444