In this matter, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) applied for an exemption from complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 1995. The purpose of the exemption was to enable the VEC to consider, among other things, information about political party or lobby group membership of potential employees.
The Commission made submissions that the applicant's purpose for seeking this exemption – to ensure the impartiality and independence of those employees responsible for administering the Victorian electoral system – is of sufficient importance to support reasonable and demonstrably justified limitations on rights. However, the Commission argued that further information was required from the Applicant to assist the Tribunal in determining whether the limitation was reasonable and demonstrably justified and that any exemption should be expressed in precise terms.
The Tribunal granted the exemption. It considered that while the proposed exemption may limit the right to equality, privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association, after narrowing the parameters of the exemption originally proposed by the VEC, the tribunal was satisfied it was reasonable and demonstrably justified.