Vote count backflip may rob Palmer in WA
A BACKFLIP by the Australian Electoral Commission may rob Palmer United Party of any advantage it hoped to gain through forming a Senate voting bloc with the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party.
PUP faces a recount of 1.2 million West Australian Senate ballot papers as well as Clive Palmer's ongoing battle in Fairfax on the Sunshine Coast.
After initially ruling out a WA recount, Electoral Commissioner Ed Killestyn announced yesterday one would now go ahead after appeals by Greens candidate Scott Ludlam and Wayne Dropulich of the Australian Sports Party.
The announcement came as Mr Palmer was in Sydney to announce an alliance with the Motoring Enthusiast Party's Senator-elect Ricky Muir.
The alliance still may give PUP a powerful balance of power in the Senate.
The WA recount will be the first in the Senate since the 1984 introduction of above-the-line voting.
Mr Palmer said the AEC had failed to follow its own published policy.
He said it had declared PUP candidate Dio Wang as the winner of the fifth Senate seat in WA and had rejected a call from the Greens for a recount.
"The Palmer United Party strongly rejects this undemocratic decision,'' Mr Palmer said.
"The AEC has taken away what the people of WA voted for."
By the close of the recount in Fairfax yesterday AEC officers, closely watched by Palmer and LNP scrutineers, passed the halfway mark and had examined 54,832 of the 89,000 ballot papers involved.
Of those 29,572 have been challenged for authenticity or other reasons and 10,659 referred on to the Australian Electoral Officer, Queensland at the request of scrutineers unhappy with the ruling of Fairfax divisional returning officer, David McKenzie.
The Fairfax recount will resume at 9am today.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has rejected Mr Palmer's request for resources to enable himself, his party's Senators and Mr Muir to better understand legislation brought before Parliament.
The PUP leader warned the Abbott Government would face a "very cold winter" if it refused to negotiate with the new power bloc.