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Assessing the policy impact of Australia's Parliamentary electoral matters committees

By Nathaniel Reader


In recent years there has been surge of critical interest in the study of committees in Westminster-derived parliaments. However, one type of committee has escaped review: Australia\u27s dedicated electoral matters committees (EMC). This article investigates the policy impact of one of Australia\u27s EMCs, the Victorian EMC. Using a mixed-methods case study of the Victorian EMC\u27s 2008/2009 inquiry into voter participation and informal voting, this article argues the Victorian EMC influenced the introduction of direct electoral enrolment in June 2010 through the Electoral Amendment (Electoral Participation) Bill. Consistent with the mixed-methods case study literature in committee studies, the analysis occurs in two parts. To assess the Victorian EMC\u27s impact on the Victorian government, this article conducts quantitative analysis of the number of references made in second reading speeches for the Bill, and then content analysis. Further to this, building on the work of Hawes (1993) and Russell and Benton (2011) on ‘non-quantifiable’ aspects of committee impact, this article examines the Victorian EMC\u27s impact on the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), another inquiry stakeholder. It contends that the Victorian EMC\u27s impact on the VEC was a defining factor contributing to the introduction of direct enrolment in Victoria in August 2010. This article contributes to the scarce literature on Australia\u27s EMCs, proposing a framework for their analysis at a time when the Victorian EMC and the New South Wales Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters are approaching their tenth anniversaries. To a lesser extent, this article also contributes to the effectiveness branch of the committee studies literature

Topics: Parliament, Elections
Publisher: Parliamentary Affairs
Year: 2015
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