Thursday, 8 March 2012

Bob Katter throws a spanner in the electoral works.

Court reserves decision on Bob Katter's push to pulp ballot papers

Thursday, March 8, 2012
© The Cairns Post

A court is yet to decide whether millions of Queensland election ballot papers will be reprinted after Katter's Australian Party lodged an injunction because it objects to how its name appears on them.

The party, founded by federal north Queensland MP Bob Katter, had the matter heard in both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in Brisbane yesterday.

It wants the court to order the Queensland Electoral Commission to reprint millions of ballot papers printed with the party’s abbreviated name, "The Australian Party".

Reprinting the ballots would likely cause a delay in the March 24 Queensland election. The party’s lawyer, Sandy Street, SC, has argued the condensed name could confuse voters because it "obscures" the identity of the party’s candidates.The matter was heard in the Supreme Court before Justice Ros Atkinson yesterday, but she ordered it be heard in the Court of Appeal because constitutional matters to be argued were outside her jurisdiction.
After sitting through the afternoon, the Court of Appeal reserved its decision until 10am today.

The matters raised in the higher court included how the Commonwealth Electoral Act compares to the Queensland Electoral Act and whether the state Act impedes the constitutional freedom of political discourse.

But Attorney-General Paul Lucas’ lawyer, Walter Sofronoff, QC, told the court it was pointless to relate the matter to any federal legislation.

Peter Flanagan, SC, for the electoral commission, said 6.5 million ballot papers had been printed with the party listed as The Australian Party. He said 1400 pre-poll votes had also been lodged.

Premier Anna Bligh said if the party’s bid for an injunction succeeded, the state election was likely to be delayed.

She hoped the case would not affect the timing of the election.
"I think the last thing Queenslanders want is this election campaign stopped and restarted for a different time at another date," she said.

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