Australia to provide $258k for Fiji General Election

(30 March, 2022) Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Mukesh Nand and Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes speaking at the signing ceremony in Suva. PHOTO: Fiji Electoral Commission

Australia will contribute FJ$258,000 to Fiji’s Electoral Commission to support an independent audit of the National Register of Voters. The independent audit was a recommendation of the Multinational Observer Group of the 2018 Fijian Election.

The audit will be done by an independent organisation, and scoped, commissioned and overseen by the Fiji Electoral Commission.  It will include audits of procedures and IT systems, and statistical testing to assess the quality of the voter register and voters list.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Australian High Commissioner John Feakes said: “Australia is providing funding directly to the Electoral Commission to conduct this work.  The Audit will be commissioned and managed by the Electoral Commission.”

“The audit aims to support the Electoral Commission to make a determination on the manner in which the FEO is maintaining the Register, and where necessary, provide relevant direction to the FEO to improve the manner in which the Register is kept,” added Electoral Commission Chairman, Mukesh Nand.

Enhancing voter participation

Meanwhile the Fijian Elections Office also hosted its first Stakeholder Forum on Enhancing Voter Participation on Thursday, with key stakeholders including the New Zealand and Australian Electoral Commissions.  

“Fiji has transitioned from a compulsory voting jurisdiction to one where voting is voluntary, and this changes the dynamics significantly… This is where voter participation is critical and all stakeholders such as political parties, members of the civil society, youths and academia play an important role in enhancing voter participation,” Nand said.

Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem emphasised that the conversation on enhancing voter participation included the views and opinions of all stakeholders.

“This was the first time that we had six (6) of the (7) registered political parties in Fiji on a panel together having a discussion on elections, so I think that the Forum truly achieved its objective of getting the stakeholders talking on how voter participation can be further improved.”

“The FEO has noted the views and recommendations from the stakeholders and we will be working with the relevant stakeholders in implementing some of the outcomes that were derived through mutual discussions,” Saneem said.