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I am mjec, a lawyer and nerd from Hobart, Tasmania.
The AEC is responsible for counting Senate votes at each election.
Given the complexity of the count, this is done using a computer, in accordance with the Electoral Act. This software was developed in-house at the AEC.
Aware of that, and given the broad definition of document in the Freedom of Information Act I put in a FOI request for the source code of the software used to conduct Senate counts.
I ultimately lost this case in a decision dated 11 December 2015.
These documents are provided in PDF format for consistency and ease of reference. Documents produced by me before IC review are are available in plain text format on the Right To Know request page. If you would like any document in a different format please email me and I will do my best to help. The AEC has refused to provide documents in any other format.
The AEC's position is that EasyCount contains a trade secret, namely the algorithm used to count Senate votes. On this basis they have refused access to the documents. Their position is that the trade secret extends to the titles of the documents and so they have refused to provide a schedule of identified documents.
My position is that there can be no secret in the algorithm, because it is public, and that the source code is in any case not commercially valuable within the meaning of the FOI Act (i.e. its release would not cause substantial commercial harm to the AEC). I also take the position that in any case there is no trade secret in the titles of the relevant documents.
The AEC refused this request initially and again on internal review. The OAIC closed the matter under s 54W(b) of the Freedom of Information Act, meaning that it was to be determined by the AAT.
I applied to the AAT for review on 30 June 2014. You can find the AAT's record of the matter through their eCaseSearch facility by searching for AAT File Number 2014/3361.
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