The Greens’ Scott Ludlam and the Australian Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich have been elected to the WA Senate in a controversial partial recount, but they won’t be celebrating just yet.
Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer immediately said his party will challenge the result in the High Court after his candidate Zhenya “Dio” Wang and Labor’s Louise Pratt missed out despite having been successful in the initial count.
Mr Palmer is unhappy that the recount didn’t include 1375 votes that were lost by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
The lost votes from electorates of Pearce and Forrest prompted an investigation by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mike Keelty and Mr Palmer wants the outcome of the first count upheld.
“If this is not done, we believe the only fair outcome is a new election with all senate positions declared vacant,” Mr Palmer said.
“The original count should stand as that is the only count where we’ve had a full count of all votes.”
The court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, will decide whether a by-election should be held.
The AEC ordered the partial recount on October 10 because the close result for the sixth Senate seat led to appeals by the Greens and Australian Sports Party.
Senator Ludlam initially lost out by the wafer-thin margin of 14 votes. He argued that it was important that the votes were scrutinised so human error could be ruled out, noting the AEC had a policy of automatically recounting for the House of Representatives where the difference between candidates was less than 100 votes.
Senator Ludlam said he was delighted with the recount result, but acknowledged the matter wasn’t yet settled.
“We know of course that other parties are likely to take a very close look at the numbers,” he said.
“Hopefully this allows us to get on with our jobs with a degree of certainty but I’m also well aware that there could be a few twists and turns in this yet.”
Mr Dropulich, who had requested a full recount, said he was very excited by the result.
“Obviously there’s still some more things to be worked through for the AEC … so we’ll wait and see what’s going to happen,” he said.
“It’s still a waiting game at this stage.”
Earlier on Saturday, deputy Federal Labor leader Tanya Plibersek declined to say whether the party would appeal the recount verdict.
“First things first: we’ll allow the Electoral Commission make a determination about the best course of action,” Ms Plibersek said on the sidelines of the state Labor conference.
Liberals David Johnston, Michaelia Cash and Linda Reynolds, and Labor’s Joe Bullock, who were victorious in the initial count, held their seats after the recount.
Senator Ludlam said on Twitter that he believed the margin in the partial recount was just 12 votes. The results will be formally declared on Monday at 12pm (WST) then a writ will be returned to the WA Governor Malcolm McCusker. Candidates and the AEC will then have 40 days to appeal to the Court of Disputed Returns.