In August last year, John Schmidt, the first lawyer in a family that has farmed in northern NSW since the 1860s, was appointed NSW Electoral Commissioner for a seven-year term.
Schmidt grew up in Alstonville near Ballina on the NSW north coast and moved to Canberra to study law when he was 17.
He has been a member of the Law Society of NSW for 38 years since beginning his legal career at a small firm on Castlereagh Street in 1980.
In 1982, he joined the Australian Taxation Office, running tax appeals before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
After a few years as a tax manager in the private sector, he joined the NSW public service and held senior executive positions in the Department of Fair Trading, The Cabinet Office, and the Department of Premier & Cabinet.
From 2009 to 2014, he was Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Transactions Reports & Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), which is Australia’s national financial intelligence unit and anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regulator.
”People are often surprised that my job as Electoral Commissioner is a full-time position. Many people think of the role purely in terms of election events. Once an election is over, you don’t just shut down your electoral systems and put them in a box until the next one comes along. There’s an ongoing stream of work required to keep those systems current and operational. Not that there has been much down time with elections in recent times.