A textbook example of good decision-making was on display today for us all to learn from.
The Australian Electoral Commissioner, Mr Ed Killesteyn decided to allow appeals from two of the unsuccessful Senate candidates in the recent Federal Election. He overruled a decision by the Electoral Officer for Western Australia. He published his reasons for the world to see.
1.4 million votes were counted and those candidates who had the most votes won seats in the Senate. Simple maths. Nothing complicated there.
Two of the unsuccessful candidates argued that the count was so close that the votes should be re-counted in case there was a mistake in counting them. Put another way, the losers were alleging that the officers counting the ballot papers failed to do their jobs properly. The scrutineers looking over the electoral officers' shoulders also failed in their jobs.
The Western Australian Electoral Officer responded to the requests for a recount by effectively saying: No. I'm not doing a re-count. Just because it's close - doesn't mean that the counters and the scrutineers made mistakes.
The two unsuccessful candidates said that they thought that the WA Electoral Officer had made the wrong decision. So they appealed. Today Mr Killesteyn decided to order a re-count. Mr Killesteyn published his reasons on the Internet. So we all get to learn from how he made his decision. Here's how he explained it to those affected - ie the Australian people:
"In making my decision I sought an explanation of the various matters raised in the appeals from Senator Ludlam and Mr Dropulich. (The Assess stage of the Five Steps to a Good Decision.)
"I also provided an opportunity for written correspondence from the other key affected parties in the Senate election.' (The Hearing step in the Five Steps to a Good Decision.)
"I have concluded that the recount will be in the best interest of all candidates who contested the 2013 WA Senate election, and in the overall interest of the WA electorate's confidence in the outcome," (The Issue step in the Five Steps to a Good Decision.)
Thankfully Mr Killesteyn didn't explain himself like some decision makers responding to appeals by complainants. He didn't say 'I have investigated this matter and have found that the WA Electoral Commissioner was wrong and that the electoral officers who counted the votes were guilty of misconduct and the scrutineers were negligent'.
He didn't say 'I have stood down the WA Electoral Commissioner and I will appoint new electoral officers to re-count the votes and I will decide the outcome.'
He didn't even say 'The appellants were right'. In fact he affirmed the reasoning of the WA Electoral Commissioner's decision saying: '...closeness of a particular count in the process of distributing Senate preferences is not in itself a basis for a recount...'.
He granted the re-count 'in the best interests of all the candidates'. Wow. Not just in the interests of the two who appealed or the other unsuccessful candidates but even those who had initially thought they'd won.
This is such a powerful statement by Mr Killesteyn. He is saying 'I know that the candidates who are finally declared Senators will want to be certain that they were elected by the majority of people.' He is assuming the best in each of the candidates. A brilliant example of a decision maker who has the wisdom to see beyond simplistic winners and losers and to reasoning a decision that serves the individual and the greater good.
He also granted the recount 'in the overall interest of the WA electorate's confidence in the outcome.' Mr Killesteyn recognises that he's responsible for a very valuable Widget. Nothing short of the Democratic Process is at stake.
Yet despite the magnitude of his decision compared to the subject matter of most workplace complaints or investigations, no mention of 'punishment', 'wrong', 'guilty', or striking of his breast with phrases like 'We remain vigorously committed to the democratic process and have a zero tolerance for errors in counting votes and in the management of that process'.
Re-counting 1.4 million bits of paper is nothing if it shines that priceless Widget.