Electoral Commission president appointed

  • Simon Power

Hon Justice Hugh Williams QC has been appointed by the Governor-General as President of the Electoral Commission for a term of two years, Justice Minister Simon Power announced today.

Justice Williams QC retired as a Judge of the High Court on 22 September.  He was the Senior Puisne Judge in that court and was previously a Master of the High Court for six years.  He was for many years the Chancellor of Massey University.

The Electoral Commission is an independent Crown entity that registers political parties and party logos.  It also receives donations protected from disclosure, parties' annual returns of donations, and returns of election expenses.  It allocates election broadcasting time and funds to eligible political parties prior to general elections.  The commission also provides public information on electoral matters and advises ministers and Parliament on electoral policy as required. 

Legislation currently before the house will, if enacted, establish a new Electoral Commission with over-arching responsibility for electoral administration.

The Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill will transfer the functions of the Electoral Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer to the new commission on 1 October next year, so it can administer the 2011 general election.

A further bill will transfer the functions of the Chief Registrar of Electors to the new commission on 1 October 2012.

Justice Williams replaces Hon Andrew McGechan QC.