And the winner of McEwen is… Fran Bailey. Unless the District Returning Officer left a small pile of Labor votes on the cistern when he went for a comfort break. Monash University politics lecturer Nick Economou has been warning this morning that the High Court may yet end up adjudicating on disputed ballot papers and the validity of the election.

Three electorates still remain on the Australian Electorate Commission’s list of close seats: McEwen, Longman and Flynn. Labor appears to have won Flynn, and it was reported yesterday that a decision is pending on an official recount in Bowman, where Liberal Andrew Laming appears to have been re-elected by less than 100 votes.

These counts, however, could pale into insignificance if the Greens have their way and all three and a bit million Senate votes from Victoria get pawed over again.

The Greens are crying “We woz robbed” – something to do with not enough people voting for them thanks to the military-industrial complex – because their lead candidate in Victoria, Richard di Natale, has not got up.

The Poll Bludger, William Bowe, has been crunching the numbers. He reports:

Antony Green’s projection shows both the Coalition and Labor winning third seats upon the exclusion of eighth placed Family First, the Liberals doing so with a surplus of 21709 votes (0.68 per cent) and Labor with 6088 (0.19 per cent). At this point Greens candidate Richard di Natale is left stranded on 13.4 per cent, 0.9 per cent or 27804 votes short of a quota.

This of course assumes that all votes are cast above the line, when there are in fact 65101 (2.05 per cent) below-the-line votes for which we presently have only first preference results. These are unlikely to make much difference, as most are votes for parties whose preference tickets favoured the Greens ahead of Labor.

Much of the leakage would come from Liberals going below the line to ensure the Greens did not get their vote. Against this can be weighed Labor voters who gave their first preference to a Labor candidate before switching to the Greens, but past experience suggests this is unlikely to account for more than 10 per cent out of 14123.

The Bludger points to a range of alleged irregularities cited in The Age by Greens spokesman Jim Buckell: “309 Greens Senate votes from one booth were not recorded at all; in Isaacs 150 votes were missed; in Dunkley 173 Greens votes were recorded as 17; and in Gellibrand, some Greens votes were attributed to another minor party”.

However, the Bludger concludes “it seems most unlikely that the required average of around 215 votes per electorate would be found to have wrongly favoured Labor over the Greens”.

Peter Fray

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