Labour is weighing up legal advice over a challenge in the Waitakere electorate, after it emerged National Cabinet minister Paula Bennett could be tossed out of Parliament if Labour won an electoral petition.
With the Waitakere result hanging on just nine votes, the Electoral Commission has confirmed there are no guarantees that any candidate who loses their seat as the result of an electoral petition would automatically be returned to Parliament off the party list. But it acknowledges that the outcome is far from certain and the courts could take different views.
Labour will decide today whether to challenge a judicial recount that saw Ms Bennett win Waitakere by just nine votes after a topsy-turvy couple of weeks in which the National Cabinet minister won the seat on election night, lost the seat to Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni on special votes, then regain it after the judicial recount.
Labour insiders say a petition is unlikely as the numbers are unlikely to change. The cost is also prohibitive at as much as $50,000.
But Labour has not discounted it entirely and under one scenario raised in blogs yesterday, Ms Bennett would be out of Parliament entirely if Labour won a challenge, because the 2011 general election writ has already been returned.
The Electoral Commission confirmed yesterday that if the court found that the election of a constituency candidate was void, there would be no automatic reallocation of list seats. That would threaten National’s majority and would put the number of seats held by it out of kilter with the election night result.
However, the Electoral Commission said the court would also be guided by the need to observe real justice.
“The question would be whether the court was prepared to make additional orders relating to the allocation of list seats when the act makes provision for the allocation of list seats to be challenged by way of a petition to the Court of Appeal,” a spokeswoman said.
Full Article: Challenge Could Oust Paula Bennett | Stuff.co.nz.