Re-election for WA Senate would be costly, difficult: High Court justice

The justice charged with ruling on the fate of the Western Australian Senate result says he is aware that calling a fresh election will be costly and politically difficult.

The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, is set to make a decision on the result of the Senate count in WA, including ruling on whether there should be a fresh vote, as soon as Monday.

After hearing two days of arguments, Justice Kenneth Hayne adjourned the High Court on Thursday – it will resume sometime next week in Canberra.

The Australian Electoral Commission is seeking to have the Senate result in WA ruled void because 1370 ballots were lost.

Justice Hayne said on Thursday that "there are consequences, of course" of declaring the election void and forcing a new ballot.

He said it would be costly, politically difficult and take considerable time and effort.

The WA Senate count has been mired in controversy with the AEC conceding in October that ballot papers had been misplaced.

Much of the deliberations over the past two days have focused on what constituted a vote: whether it is a person marking the ballot paper, the ballot being put in a box or when it is forming scrutinised.

There were two counts of the ballot. In the first count Palmer United Party candidate Zhenya "Dio" Wang and Labor's Louise Pratt were elected in the fifth and sixth spots. But after the second count - declared on November 4 - the Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich and the Greens' Scott Ludlam edged out Mr Wang and Senator Pratt.

An independent inquiry found that the fate of the missing 1370 votes may never be known.

ALP National Secretary George Wright said Labor has argued that the Court of Disputed Returns should give effect to the intentions of voters in Western Australia.

"The intention of voters was that Senator Louise Pratt would be returned.

Due to actions by the AEC in incorrectly deeming votes informal, and through the loss of 1370 ballot papers, Western Australians have been denied the representatives they voted for," Mr Wright said.

"It is for the Court to use its powers to look at the disputed ballot papers, and to consider the clear records of the lost votes, and declare the correct candidates elected."

The Liberal party, who won three Senate positions, argued that the result should be upheld.

And the Greens and Sports Party also argued for the vote to be upheld.

The Palmer United Party also want the first count reinstated.

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The story Re-election for WA Senate would be costly, difficult: High Court justice first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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