The controversial results of Western Australia’s senate recount have been formally declared ahead of a likely High Court challenge.
It was revealed on Saturday that Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and the Australian Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich had secured senate spots, pushing out Labor Senator Louise Pratt and Palmer United Party (PUP) candidate Zhenya “Dio” Wang.
PUP leader Clive Palmer immediately said his party would challenge the result in the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns.
Moments later, Labor State Secretary Simon Mead tweeted: “The best lawyers in the Labor Party will be working to lodge an appeal in the Court of Disputed Returns”.
Mr Ludlam and Mr Dropulich attended the declaration in Perth on Monday, but the three Liberal winners – Michaelia Cash, Linda Reynolds and David Johnston – and Labor’s Joe Bullock, did not.
“I’m happy to have won a seat in the senate,” Mr Dropulich said.
Mr Ludlam said it was appropriate the matter be resolved in the High Court.
“This count has not only been unusual, it’s been unprecedented,” he said.
He said several hundred votes were “out of place” in the initial count, where he lost out by 14 votes, so he felt vindicated in requesting the recount.
After a writ is handed to the WA governor, candidates and the AEC will then have 40 days to appeal to the court, which will decide whether a new senate election is held.
It’s unclear whether any new poll would be restricted to the same parties and candidates that contested the September 7 federal election, or if the regular procedure for nominations would occur.
Senator Pratt said the High Court would have to give parties flexibility over which candidates ran – and in what order.
Last time, she was controversially bumped to Labor’s number two spot on the senate ticket, behind Mr Bullock, a former union powerbroker.
Ms Pratt said the events of the past few weeks had shown the importance of the role of scrutineers.
She said she had no doubt that the bungle would provide an opportunity to improve the electoral process.
Mr Ludlam told AAP he was sure the controversy would lead to a higher level of vote scrutiny in future elections.
The AEC’s Peter Kramer said he was horribly disappointed by the lost votes.
He said there was “nowhere that we haven’t looked two or three times”.
The investigation lead by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty into the missing votes commences on Tuesday and will run for a fortnight.
The Wikileaks lead candidate in WA, Gerry Georgatos, said in a statement on Monday that party leader Julian Assange would head the ticket instead if a new election is held.
Mr Assange contested a Victorian senate spot for his Wikileaks Party in September and attracted almost 41,700 primary votes out of 3.5 million.
West Australians may be poll-weary following a state election in March, the federal election in September and last month’s local council elections.