Fairfax result could go to High Court: Academic

BIG IDEAS: Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer has always had grandiose plans.
BIG IDEAS: Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer has always had grandiose plans. DAVE HUNT - AAP

THE High Court may be called on to decide Clive Palmer's political fate, says a leading political lecturer.

Bronwyn Stevens of the University of the Sunshine Coast said a by-election or an immediate result reversal for the seat of Fairfax was a possibility if it were found votes were wrongly included or excluded.

Mr Palmer, Queensland's richest man, won the seat for his fledgling party by seven votes over LNP candidate Ted O'Brien.

A recount is currently underway due to the closeness of the vote.

"If it is decided votes were wrongly included, that could be grounds for calling an election if it's more votes than the margin the candidate is declared to have won by - and as it's only seven votes that is a possibility," she said.

Stevens said the High Court's Court of Disputed Returns could reverse the result without a by-election if there were enough wrongly excluded votes that could be checked.

"To be successful in a challenge, you have to be able to demonstrate an error took place," she said.

"Or there could be corruption, but that's never been found in Australia."

Stevens warned that it could take months to get a result if there were an appeal, despite the fact the High Court would treat it with urgency.

Precedents have been set at state level.

The most notable case was when the Court of Disputed Returns ordered a by-election for the seat of Mundingburra after voiding the result from the 1995 Queensland election.

Labor's Ken Davies had won by 16 votes.

It led to Labor's Goss government losing its one-seat majority in Parliament and resigning.

Liberal leader Rob Borbidge then formed a minority government.

Following the September 8 federal election, Palmer called for electoral reform.

He claimed there was evidence of vote fraud, partly the result of no identification being required to vote.

Stevens said requiring people to show identification was problematic as it would stop some marginalised people from voting because they did not hold a driver's licence.

She also said there should be optional preferential voting to stop the "gaming" of the Senate electoral system.

Topics:  clive palmer fairfax politics ted obrien university of the sunshine coast

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