Voters in Western Australia will be confronted with the biggest ballot paper they have seen after the Australian Electoral Commission bowed to pressure and agreed to refund nomination fees for minor parties that contested the botched Senate vote in September. A number of grassroots parties had written to the AEC complaining they would be unable to run again if the $2000 deposit they paid per candidate nomination were not returned to be used again for the April 5 election. Most minor political parties paid a minimum $4000 for two candidates to qualify for ”above the line” voting and take part in the preference swap deals that provide their only hope of election.
Parties have until March 13 to nominate and pay their deposit for the fresh election and some believed the silence on refunds was a tactic to thin out what is expected to be a record ”tablecloth” ballot paper inspired by the unexpected success of Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party and the short-lived win of Wayne Dropulich, representing the Sports Party in WA.
On Tuesday, Fairfax Media asked the AEC why the nominations fees had not been refunded even after the High Court ruled the election had been botched by the commission at no fault of candidates.