Australia’s top electoral official says boosting funding for his agency won’t in itself be enough to deliver a faster final count.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is reportedly considering May 25 as the date for the election, instead of an expected Saturday earlier in May.
However, this would make it harder to finalise the count, especially as the Senate must return on July 1.
Coalition MPs have suggested the May 25 date could be easily secured by throwing more money at the Australian Electoral Commission.
But AEC commissioner Tom Rogers says this suggestion is wrong.
‘It’s not just a resourcing issue,’ he told a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday night.
He said there was a careful and transparent legislative process to follow.
And the AEC, which came under intense criticism over the botched West Australian Senate election count in 2013, had adopted the mantra ‘right, not rushed’.
The law requires the writ to be returned within 100 days, but the July 1 deadline for the Senate must also be considered.
Mr Rogers said a shorter period for the AEC to complete its work would present a ‘risk’, even if the commission worked doubly hard.
‘There will be a point where it will be very difficult for us to make that (writ return) date,’ he said, when asked by Labor senator Don Farrell about the May 25 date.
‘But we will come up with a plan to make sure we can deal with it appropriately.’
In 2013, the writ was returned with six days left in the due period while in 2016, it was returned on the final possible day.
Mr Rogers also told the hearing the recent cyber attack on the parliamentary computer system had not affected AEC computers.
‘There is no evidence the AEC’s systems have been compromised,’ he said.
He said the security of electoral systems was a global issue and the AEC was working with overseas partners to ensure Australia’s system was ‘robust’.