Frequently Asked Questions – JSCEM

What is JSCEM?

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is a parliamentary committee specifically concerned with laws about elections, the administration of those laws, and the practice of elections. They are effectively a working group, tasked by parliament to run inquiries where they sift through the evidence and competing interests to make recommendations on the issues they’re concerned with.

After each federal election, the committee is generally tasked with reviewing a range of matters relating to that election. This often includes delving into issues like political donations and their influence and big electoral advertising spending. The committee is made up of cross-party politicians from both the House of Representatives and the Senate. You can find a list of the current committee members here.

Inquiry rules & guidelines

As a legal process, there are certain requirements that must be met in your submission. 

  • Do not include discriminatory content, foul or offensive language, or refer to matters currently before a court.
  • Submissions that make allegations or comment negatively about another organisation or person will take longer to be considered by a committee. The organisation or person you refer to may be given your submission and the opportunity to respond.
  • Submissions will be published. Please ensure that the names and identifying details of other people, particularly children, are not included in your submission. If you would like your submission to be private, you can request it be accepted on a confidential basis. Please make this clear in your notes.
  • All submissions are required to include contact details – this is why we ask for your address in the form.

I don’t know anything about the topic/I’ve never written a submission before – does that matter?

No! This is an opportunity to engage in our democracy – everyone is encouraged to have their say. You can make a submission that just states what you believe should happen, but it’s more powerful if you speak about why. This can just be your personal opinion or can refer back to expert research and positions.

Can I submit something about another topic/issue? 

Submissions to this inquiry must fit within the Terms of Reference outlined by the committee. 

The Terms of Reference are available here and specifically mention:

  • Reforms to political donation laws
  • Reforms to the funding of elections
  • Truth in political advertising laws
  • Increased enfranchisement, generally and in reference to specific listed groups
  • Changes to the electoral roll
  • Proportional representation

We’re encouraging submissions on reforms to electoral spending to make sure these important reforms are on the radar of the government in this term of parliament.

What happens to my submission/how does the inquiry work?

Submissions are open until October 7, 2022, and can be received from individuals or organisations. All submissions are read – public servants and staffers of the committee members usually do the first round of review.

Your submission will be published on the inquiry website. Your contact details will be kept confidential by the committee.  The committee will then hold hearings to get more information on the submissions. People are invited to speak – usually organisations, or experts in the content area.

The committee will write a draft and a final report – the draft report of this inquiry is due in 6 months. The report will make a set of recommendations. These may be unanimous or may have a set of dissenting opinions from non-government members of the committee. 

The recommendations will influence the way the government approaches policy on electoral reform during the next 3 years.

I want to include attachments or other information that I cannot enter on this webpage

No worries! You can make your submission directly to the inquiry by emailing em@aph.gov.au – we’d love it if you could BCC us (info@australiandemocracy.org.au), or let us know in some other way that you took action! This helps us track our impact. Additionally, while submissions are usually written documents, they can be pictures, short videos or even voice notes – if you prefer to participate in this way, you should email your submission to the committee directly using that same email address.