Saturday, November 29, 2008

Steve Tully

Under review

Allegations of threats and intimidation is an abuse of authority.

There was no act of bulling or harassment as claimed by Steve Tully, Chief Electoral Commissioner.

Mr Steve Tully's accusations are false and not supported by the facts.

Mr Tully was not even present at the briefing in question.

Having spoken to a number of people present at the meeting all stated that Mr Tully's statement is a gross over-reaction to criticism at the way in which the VEC elections are to be counted.

There was no grounds or justification to Mr Tully's statement or his accusations.

The reason behind Mr Tully's emotive outburst is simple, Steve Tully had come under serious criticism in relation to his conduct of the 2006 State election along with concern that he may have deliberately mislead the parliament in his evidence given to the State Parliamentary committee on electoral matters.

Mr Tully had cut corners and in the process he made a number of serious mistakes during the conduct of the 2006 State election.

Under the terms of the Local Government Act and regulations the Returning Officer is required to preliminary sort ballot papers into primary votes which in turn is used to reconcile the number of votes pertaining to the election as part of the process of scrutiny of the ballot.

Mr Tully has opted to once again cut corners and ignore requests that the count be open and transparent and that the ballot papers be subject to a preliminary distribution as required under the Act for a manual count.

There is no justification for a computerised counting of the Lord Mayors ballot. A majority of candidates had supported calls for the ballot to be counted manually so that it could be subject to proper scrutiny.

The Victorian Parliament in reviewing the mistakes made during the 2006 State election recommended that the VEC preliminary presort ballot papers into primary votes as is the case with Federal elections. Mr Tully chose to ignore the parliament's recommendation and the request made by candidates and others. Mr Tully directed Mr Bill Lang, City of Melbourne's Returning Officer, to reject the request for the preliminary sorting of ballot papers undermining the independence of the appointed Returning Officer.

The Chief Commissioner misused and abused his position of authority.

At no time had staff been subjected to any threats and any act that warrants or requires police presence. Steve Tully's statement calling for police protection is a further act of intimidation and harassment against his critics and an abuse of authority.

Mr Tully made similar false threats of intimidation in the leaduop to and following the 2006 State election in which votes went missing during the count and the data recorded seriously flawed. Mr Tully was unable and unwilling to provide access to crucial data related to the 2006 count.

In giving evidence to the parliamentary Electoral Matters Committee, Mr Tully stated that the data records of the 2006 Western Metropolitan Province count had been destroyed and were no longer available. An extraordinary claim given that it costs millions of dollars to count the ballot and it turns out that backup copies of the data were not recorded.

The complaints and submission lodged in relation to the proposed City of Melbourne count were seeking to prevent a repeat of the mistakes made by the Chief Commissioner in 2006. Mistakes that were made as result of a lack of due diligence and denial of access to crucial data by the Chief Commissioner. Mistakes that should be avoided and not repeated with the Melbourne City Council elections.

It is fundamental to our democracy that elections are open and transparent in order that public confidence in the electoral process is maintained, This issue does not just effect the City of Melbourne but the entire State.

The actions of Mr Tully are a form of retribution and intimidation of critics to his administration. This is not the first time Mr Tully has acted in such a manner.

Members of Parliament are very much aware of Mr Tully's acts of intimidation and abuse of process against those who gave evidence to the parliamentary inquiry.

Mr Tully in making false accusations of this nature has raised doubts and questions as to his suitability to hold the office of Chief Commissioner.

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