Billionaire businessman Clive Palmer leads the LNP’s Ted O’Brien by just three votes in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax. A recount of preferences is underway after an initial count put Mr Palmer 36 votes ahead of Mr O’Brien. On Monday morning Mr Palmer was 42 votes ahead, but by the evening the mining magnate’s lead had narrowed to three votes. As the painstaking count continues, tensions are rising. Last week the Australian Electoral Commission flew in its chief legal officer to deal with an unusually high number of challenges on the validity of ballot papers. The Palmer United Party, which may also hold the balance of power in the Senate, has four lawyers and the LNP has one. Palmer’s scrutineers are being delivered gourmet lunches from the billionaire’s luxury Coolum resort, while Mr O’Brien’s team gets the rare sandwich or roll.
Mr Palmer last week repeated his claim that there was evidence of voter fraud in the electorate, raising questions about why the AEC does not require voters to supply identification and why pencils are used to mark the ballots.
Returning officer David McKenzie says it is exhausting work.
“I’m tired,” he said on Monday morning.
“It’s been a long election and since election day it’s been a very solid bit of work we’ve been putting in.”
The commission cannot say when counting will end.