Gold Coast billionaire and likely member of parliament Clive Palmer has welcomed the election of yet another senator for his fledgling Palmer United Party.
Final senate counts in Western Australia show Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has lost his seat. Labor has taken a seat most assumed would go to the Australian Sports Party, while Palmer United’s Zhenya Wang also got up. The remaining four seats in Western Australia went three to the Liberals, and one to Labor.
The close vote, which is likely to be recounted, means Wang will join PUP’s Glenn Lazarus, elected in Queensland, and Jacqui Lambie, elected in Tasmania.
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Palmer said the results were a “tremendous achievement in our election debut”.
“The Palmer United Party looks forward to working with the Abbott government to get Australia back on track.”
Palmer’s own lower house bid for the seat of Fairfax is on its third recount, as the second recount showed the mining magnate’s lead over his opponent was narrower than first believed.
Yesterday, Palmer lashed out at the Australian Election Commission, saying it was a “farce” that results for Fairfax were still not known nearly a month after polling day.
“We continue to see different results from this unfair and out-dated system, which makes a mockery of the democratic process,” Palmer said in a statement. The first count had shown him ahead by 31 votes, before the second count saw that narrow to just seven.
If Palmer loses the seat, he has said previously that he would launch a court challenge against the AEC.
Senator Ludlam has also criticised the voting process, saying yesterday that the preferential voting system was being “expertly gamed and manipulated” to throw up candidates that do not receive many votes. The Greens received 124,268 primary votes in the Western Australian Senate, while PUP received just 65,511.
“It’s an elegant system that’s now being expertly gamed and manipulated,” Ludlam told AAP.
“So good luck to the people who’ve got in that way, but the whole purpose of an electoral system is to as accurately as possible represent the voting will of the Australian people, and it actually has let us down in this instance.
“I’m not referring specifically to WA but overall the system’s being manipulated.”
ABC election analyst Antony Green said the Greens and the Australian Sports Party were just 14 votes away from being elected.