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Issue #1629      March 5, 2014

West Australians in Senate re-run

On September 7, 2013, Australians went to the poll to elect a new government. The Liberal/National Coalition was elected but the final result in the Senate is still undecided. This was due to a close vote in Western Australia for the last two Senate spots. The initial count went to the Palmer United Party’s Dio Wang and the Labor Party’s Louise Pratt. However after a recount these two seats were won by the Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich and the Greens Scott Ludlam.

Greens Scott Ludlam.

Then came revelations during the recount that 1,370 Senate ballot papers could not be found and the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) petitioned the High Court sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns to make a ruling on the matter.

On February 20, the Court of Disputed Returns ruled that the Senate vote in Western Australia was invalid and subsequently that all six WA Senate seats would need to face a fresh election on April 5.

Initial estimates of the cost of the re-run of the Senate election were put at $13 million but that has since been revised upwards and currently stand at $20 million.

In the 76-seat Senate the government needs 39 votes to pass legislation and currently it has 30 seats, the ALP has 24 seats, the Greens 9, Palmer United Party 2 and five other individuals or entities have the remaining five seats.

If the Liberals repeat their 2013 result they will have 33 seats on July 1 meaning they will need only six other votes to pass legislation.

Unemployment in WA in January 2014 rose from 4.6 percent to 5.1 percent with most of the jobs lost being full-time positions which were replaced by some casual and part-time jobs.

Other issues which will define the election campaign are cuts to education, public health, asylum seekers, transport (especially the cuts to Qantas), water availability and climate change.

The Greens candidate Scott Ludlam in ABC Online said that West Australians have been handed a unique and extraordinary opportunity to make history.

“There’s never been a situation like this before, and the Greens believe its an opportunity for West Australians to send a very strong message to Tony Abbott and back to Canberra not to take this state for granted, and in the lead up to what is potentially a horror (federal) budget for West Australians, to say that we’ve had enough and that we want our country back,” he said.

“Whether it’s cuts to Medicare, cuts to education funding, attacks to the clean energy sector and jobs in the renewable energy industry, attacks on public broadcasting or the extraordinarily degrading way we are treating people who have sought refuge in this country”, continued Ludlam.

This writer has worked over ten years as a paid polling official for the AEC and over a further 10 years as a voluntary campaign worker for the Greens outside polling booths on election day and it is disappointing to see every election how many people come to a polling booth on election day and do not know what the issues are, their own interests, who the candidates are and who or what they represent.

Initial observations by many West Australians since the election date was announced can be distilled into one sentiment, “What a waste of time.”

That is why between now and April 5, we will see a massive election campaign by capital to promote and protect their interests by choosing to focus on the carbon and mining tax and not the creation of sustainable energy, industries and jobs and the maintenance of an accessible, quality and affordable public service.

Out of the limelight will be: the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and how this will rob this nation of its sovereignty and the absence of employment opportunities for our youth, food security and the effects of climate change.

The Communist Party of Australia calls on West Australian voters to vote 1 for the Greens and put the Liberal/National parties and other right-wing groups, including the Palmer United Party last to prevent Abbott and Co. gaining control of the Senate.

Next article – $10m funding blow for MJD Foundation

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