Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Bob Katter wants ballot papers shredded

Judge describes Bob Katter ballot move as bizarre

AAP Tuesday, March 6, 2012
© The Cairns Post

A Supreme Court judge has described Katter's Australian Party's legal bid to have millions of Queensland ballot papers shredded as "bizarre". 

The Queensland Electoral Commission has printed "The Australian Party" on ballot papers for the March 24 state election.

Katter’s Australian Party wants an injunction to have the papers reprinted, a move that could delay the election, because it fears the name "Obscures" the identity of its candidates.

The party founded by federal MP Bob Katter originally wanted to be called The Australian Party, but the Australian Electoral Commission knocked it back because it could be mistaken for an already registered name or abbreviation. The party registered as Katter’s Australian Party and applied for The Australian Party to be recognised as its abbreviated name, the Queensland Supreme Court has heard.

The Queensland Electoral Commission approved the request in January. Now the party wants ballot papers shredded and reprinted with its full name, except on ballots that have already been cast, its lawyer, Sandy Street, told the court. "It has a real potential consequence of masking and obscuring the identity of the party’s endorsed candidates," Mr Street said.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson said the confusion was of the party’s "Own making". "I’m not quite sure how a party that does something on its own volition fully armed with all the information now says what we did is wrong and is seeking a court order," Justice Atkinson said. She later added: "The idea that what your client sought was so bad it should have been refused … And now the electoral papers should be shredded is a rather bizarre argument."

Mr Street also argued the word "The" in the abbreviated form was incorrect. He said it should be just "Australian Party". Mr Street said the electoral commission should have asked if the party wanted the abbreviated name on the ballot papers. But Justice Atkinson said the Queensland Electoral Act made it clear abbreviations could be used. Mr Katter did not appear in court yesterday, but the party’s state leader, Aidan McLindon, was present. The case continues.
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