The ever-protracted count for the NSW Legislative Council election is likely to be even slower this time, with the Australian Electoral Commission refusing to authorise any more overtime for the AEC staff engaged for the count.
There have been unprecedented levels of cooperation between the AEC and the NSW electoral authorities this election, but after just two days of preparing for the Upper House count over the weekend, the AEC has gone into a panic about the likely level of overtime, and has literally ordered its workers to take a “rest”.
Counting will now finish each day at 5pm, with no approval for overtime to complete the count. With Easter imminent, this delay is likely to push back the announcement of the Upper House results substantially.
The NSW Electoral Commission is understood to have expected the AEC to finish the Legislative Council count by Wednesday. The AEC told staff that the Electoral Commissioner has been informed that he will have to adjust his timetable. No amended timeframe for the conclusion of the count was suggested.
A major outcry from furious Government, opposition and minor parties about the delay in finalising the count for the Upper House count in 2003, marred by slow counting and a total meltdown in the computer software used for calculating the results, saw new procedures adopted for the 2007 election.
Efficiency was supposed to have been increased by the use of AEC staff in the count.