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Changes To Senate Voting Methods Recommended; Liberals, ALP And Greens Agree To Stamp Out Preference Gaming

An interim report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has recommended the abolition of group voting tickets in the Senate in a move, supported by Liberal, Labor and Greens members, that will cripple micro-parties and prevent them from “gaming” the electoral system.

The Committee’s chairman, Tony Smith, the Liberal member for Casey, and his deputy, Alan Griffin, the ALP member for Bruce, presented the report today and held a media conference to discuss its recommendations. The Committee includes members from all parties and both houses. Its report was unanimous.

Ballot [Read more…]


Bill Shorten Takes Aim At Abbott At Launch Of ALP Senate Campaign In Western Australia

Bill Shorten has launched the ALP’s campaign for the Western Australian Senate election with an attack on Tony Abbott over Medicare, education and jobs.

Shorten

Speaking at the launch at the University Club of Western Australia, the Opposition Leader told his audience: “We can do this.” [Read more…]


Scott Ludlam Invites Tony Abbott To Western Australia: “We Want Our Country Back”

“We want our country back,” Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has told Tony Abbott, during a speech to the Senate in which he invited the prime minister to visit Western Australia during the Senate election campaign.

Ludlam

Ludlam, first elected to the Senate in 2007, is facing a difficult re-election campaign for the April 5 re-run of last year’s Senate election in Western Australia.

Ludlam advised Abbott “to leave your excruciatingly boring three-word slogans at home”. He listed a series of issues – Manus Island, the ABC, homophobia, working conditions, the shark cull and the NBN – to warn Abbott not to take the votes of Western Australians for granted. [Read more…]


Commission Of Audit Interrogated By Senate Select Committee

Members of the Abbott government’s Commission of Audit appeared before a Senate Select Committee today.

Committee

The Commission of Audit was established by the government on October 13.

On December 11, the Senate established a Select Committee to inquire into the Commission of Audit and any reports it makes to the government. [Read more…]


Electoral Commission Asks Court Of Disputed Returns To Void W.A. Senate Result

The Australian Electoral Commission has lodged a petition with the Court of Disputed Returns asking it to declare void the result of the Western Australian Senate count.

The petition’s argument rests on the 1,370 missing ballot papers that could not be included in the recount that saw 3 Liberal, 1 Labor, 1 Greens and 1 Sports Party candidates elected. Due to the closeness of the result, the missing ballots had the potential to affect the result.

The AEC’s petition all but guarantees a new election in Western Australia next year.

The High Court will sit as the Court of Disputed Returns to decide on the petition.

Media release from the Australian Electoral Commission.

Petition lodged with Court of Disputed Returns

The three-person Australian Electoral Commission today authorised the Electoral Commissioner to lodge a petition with the Court of Disputed Returns in respect of the 2013 Western Australian Senate election.

The petition was lodged at approximately 2:30pm AEDT today.

The petition seeks an order from the Court that the WA Senate election of six senators be declared void.

Given the closeness of the margins that favoured the final two declared candidates, the petition is based on the premise that the inability to include 1370 missing ballot papers in the recount of the WA Senate election means that the election was likely to be affected for the purposes of s 362(3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

As the matter is now before the Court the AEC will not be making any further comment.

The AEC recently appointed Mr Mick Keelty AO to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the missing ballots. Mr Keelty’s inquiries are continuing.

Editorial note: For copies of the petition, please contact the High Court Registry’s public information officer (Canberra) during their business hours. The AEC will not be posting or distributing the document.


Mick Keelty Discusses Investigation Into Missing WA Senate Ballot Papers

Mick Keelty, the former Commissioner of the Federal Police, has held a media conference to discuss his investigation into the missing Western Australian Senate ballot papers.

Keelty [Read more…]


Missing W.A. Senate Votes Would Have Produced A One-Vote Turnaround

The Australian Electoral Commission has released preference information about the missing Western Australian Senate ballot papers which shows a probable reversal of the official result by just one vote.

After the first count of votes, the final two positions went to the Palmer United Party and the ALP. The result hinged on a 14-vote difference between preferences flowing to the Australian Christians and the Shooters and Fishers party.

The result was overturned by the recount and saw the Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and the Sports Party candidate, Wayne Dropulich, elected. This time, the outcome was decided by a difference of 12 votes between the Christians and the Shooters.

The recount did not include 1,375 votes which had mysteriously disappeared since the first count. However, since all the missing ballots were above-the-line votes, the first count result is available and regarded as accurate. [Read more…]


Deborah O’Neill Appointed To Fill Bob Carr’s Casual Senate Vacancy

Deborah O’Neill, who lost her seat at last month’s election, has been chosen by the NSW ALP to fill the casual Senate vacancy created by the resignation of Bob Carr.

O'NeillO’Neill is the defeated member for the House of Representatives seat of Robertson. She won Robertson in 2010, after defeating Belinda Neal in a preselection challenge. She was defeated on September 7, suffering a 4.93% drop in her primary vote to 34.83%. There was an overall two-party-preferred swing against the ALP of 4%, reducing it to 47%. The new Liberal member is Lucy Wicks.

O’Neill reportedly won the ALP endorsement by 36 votes to 1 at a meeting of the NSW ALP Administrative Committee today. She was endorsed last night by the Right faction. Reports say that Belinda Neal and her husband, John Della Bosca, attempted to thwart the nomination at the meeting.

Mike Kelly, the defeated member for Eden-Monaro, pulled out of the contest yesterday.

O’Neill will serve out the remainder of Bob Carr’s term until June 30 next year. The position was originally held by Mark Arbib who resigned in February 2012. O’Neill will then serve the full 6-year term Carr was elected to on September 7. She will not face election by the voters until 2019-20.

A former education teacher at the University of Newcastle, O’Neill is 52. She is aligned with social conservatives in the ALP and is regarded as an opponent of issues such as same-sex marriage.

Casual Senate vacancies are made under Section 15 of the Constitution.


Bob Carr Resigns From The Senate, Abandons Promise To Beat Strom Thurmond

Senator Bob Carr, Foreign Minister in the Gillard and Rudd governments, has announced his resignation from Parliament.

Carr

Carr’s resignation will take effect tomorrow. It allows the NSW Parliament to appoint his replacement before the Senate sits again on November 12. The defeated member for Robertson, Deb O’Neill, is likely to be appointed as his replacement. The defeated member for Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly, has also expressed interest in the position. [Read more…]


Electoral Commission Refuses Request For Senate Recount In W.A. – Greens To Appeal

The Australian Electoral Commission has denied requests from the Greens and the Sports Party for a recount of the Senate ballot in Western Australia.

The count was finalised yesterday, resulting in the defeat of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and the elimination of Sports Party candidate Wayne Dropulich. Both candidates requested a partial recount.

The AEC said neither request for a recount identified “any specific issues” that would “have warranted the conduct of a recount”. It appears that neither candidate has been able to find any irregularities in the count and their appeal is simply based on the fact that the result was close.

In a statement tonight, the defeated Greens senator, Scott Ludlam, said he would appeal the decision. Under Section 278(2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, the appeal has to be lodged with the Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn, before the declaration of the poll. The declaration is scheduled for 11.30am tomorrow, W.A. time.

Ludlam said: “As none of the elected senators will be required to take their seats in the Senate before 1 July 2014, there is time to ensure the result is correct.”

The AEC’s Western Australian State Manager, Peter Kramer, explained the decision to deny a recount on ABC radio tonight.

Media release from the Australian Electoral Commission.

Australian Electoral Commission statement: WA Senate recount requests declined

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has released its decisions today on the WA Senate recount requests submitted by the Australian Sports Party candidate, Wayne Dropulich and the Greens (WA) candidate, Scott Ludlam.

The AEC received the two requests prior to the formal declaration originally scheduled for 3.00pm (WST) on Wednesday 2 October 2013.

The requests for a recount did not identify any specific issues, which would have warranted the conduct of a recount and as a result the requests have been denied.

Mr Dropulich and Senator Ludlam have the option of appealing the decision to the AEC Electoral Commissioner under Section 278(2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 before the declaration of the poll.

The formal declaration of the poll for the WA Senate election has been rescheduled for 11.30am on Friday, 4 October 2013 at Level 13, 200 St Georges Tce Perth. All candidates, media and the public are invited to attend.

Media release from the Australian Greens.

Greens will appeal Electoral Commission decision

Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam will appeal the Australian Electoral Commission’s decision this afternoon not to recount Senate votes despite a difference between the respective parties at last count of just 14 votes.

“There have been Senate vote recounts both in this state and other jurisdictions when the margin has been far greater, and in more than one occasion those re-counts have led to a different result,” Senator Ludlam said.

“In such a marginal decision, with such important consequences for two Senate seats, only a recount can ensure that the votes receive the scrutiny needed to exclude human error.

“As none of the elected senators will be required to take their seats in the Senate before 1 July 2014, there is time to ensure the result is correct.”