A key witness in Pauline Hanson’s legal challenge to the New South Wales election result has failed to show up, prompting the state’s Supreme Court to consider issuing a warrant for him to appear. The former One Nation leader ran as an Independent in the March 26 election but missed out on an Upper House seat by just 1306 votes.
She claims she was cheated out of 1200 votes that were put in a pile of blank ballots by “dodgy staff” at the NSW Electoral Commission. She is challenging the count, based on alleged email exchanges between the NSW Electoral Commission’s chief information officer Ian Brightwell and communications manager Richard Carroll.
However, the man who alerted her to the alleged emails, Michael Rattner, failed to appear in court today, and until he does his existence is in doubt. “I’ve either been cheated out of a seat or this is a very elaborate hoax,” Ms Hanson said today before attending the hearing before Justice Peter McClellan.
Ms Hanson’s lawyer, Peter Lowe, admitted he did not even know what Mr Rattner looked like, but told the court he believed he did exist. “We know he is a real person. He has a Facebook site. He has made postings on that website to Ms Hanson,” Mr Lowe said.
The Facebook site listed a number of Mr Rattner’s friends who worked as casual employees for the NSW Electoral Commission, Mr Lowe added. “But there is nothing to indicate they are tied to counting ballot papers,” he said.
The court was told that Mr Brightwell denied sending emails regarding an alleged misplacement of votes during the counting and that the emails concerned did not contain his usual signature. “It is not his usual signature block,” Mr Lowe said.
The electoral commission says the contentious emails cannot be found. Without Mr Rattner’s presence in court, Mr Lowe said, his client had difficulty proving the emails’ authenticity. He requested a warrant be issued to bring Mr Rattner to court.
“Mr Rattner has indicated the electoral commission has been taking steps to remove emails from their system,” Mr Lowe said.
“If your honour is prepared to issue a warrant, that would be an appropriate step to take, as without Mr Rattner’s evidence there is a significant flaw in the chain of events that can be relied on by (Ms Hanson)” he said.
In the absence of Mr Rattner giving sufficient evidence to support Ms Hanson’s case, Mr Lowe said there should be a recount of all 180,000 ballot papers counted as blank votes at the March election.
Full Article: Key witness for Pauline Hanson a no-show | News.com.au.