February 16, 2015 | Graham

Ferny Grove spanner still poised above the works

If the LNP challenges the ECQ’s decision in Ferny Grove and wins, it’s possible that the Palaszczuk government will be one of the shortest in Queensland’s history. But everyone seems to think there is no chance of the LNP mounting a challenge, or succeeding.

Having been through the 1995 Mundingburra appeal I wouldn’t be so sure.

The cost of appealing is relatively modest compared to the prize, and the chance of winning the appeal appears reasonably strong.

In assessing the case I’d been relying on this blog post by Antony Green where he argues that the High Court has ruled in Nile v Wood that it would only be in the case where a disqualified candidate wins an election that there would be grounds for a re-election.

But as Green says, he’s not a lawyer. Not much of a lawyer at all, as Wood was rejected as precedent for a lower house seat in a subsequent High Court case.

Real lawyers have put the case to me that Wood is not in fact precedent for Ferny Grove, and that in fact the ruling of the High Court in Sykes v Cleary is. Nile v Wood was a case about a Senate election, where voting really proceeds on party, rather than individual lines.

Cleary was for a lower house seat.

In Cleary 6 of the 7 judges decided that the mere fact of a disqualified person being in the ballot meant that it should be run again. The seventh found  on other grounds, so didn’t decide on this matter.

It was held to be analogous in some respects to a candidate dying between close of nominations and election day, in which case the commonwealth electoral act (and the Queensland electoral act as well), hold that the election must be re-run.

The judges held that it was impossible to know how voters might have voted in a different field.

Sykes v Cleary does seem to provide a pretty clear precedent, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the court of disputed returns orders a re-election.

What I am surprised about is that the Electoral Commission, having announced its intention to send the matter to the court of disputed returns, changed its mind.

There has to be real doubt as to the actual legal status, and a referral would have been appropriately prudent.

It suggests some very heavy leaning on the commission by the incoming government. Perhaps not as much has changed in Queensland as some would like us to think.

But as the Mundingburra judgement also suggests, it can be difficult to second guess what judges will decide. I can remember thinking that case would be decided on the issue of false enrolments.

In the end it came down to soldiers in Rwanda not having received their ballot papers in time – the grounds which I thought were the shakiest.

In fact, after the Borbidge government came to power as a result of this ruling it was forced to change the act to rule this possibility out. Making Australia Post an agent for the electoral commission, which is what the judgement did, posed real practical problems for later elections.

Posted by Graham at 5:44 pm | Comments (2) |


  1. You could be right Graham, however I suspect an equal distribution of PUP preferences, has persuaded the commission, that there’s no case for eliminating Ferny Grove from the contest.

    And should there be a rerun some months down the track, incumbency will likely work for labor along with the usual honeymoon period.

    Even if it goes badly for them, the LNP will still need a couple of independents to govern, and that ends any prospect of privatization.

    Instead I believe there’s a good case to exploit the reef for a possible bonanza of hydrocarbons, and possibly enough to completely turn the State’s fortunes around; and on the strongest possible environmental grounds; and on several counts!

    Lawrence Springborg needs both courage of conviction and an ability to take the State with him.

    I believe he’s arguably the only LNP leader, likely to be able to do just that, given he was the one with the courage and conviction, that welded a divided rabble forever on the outside looking in, into a unified unit; finally able to chart it’s own course/win an election on optional preferences!

    Sure mining the reef or just proposing to do so, will be unpopular in some quarters, but on idiotic ideological grounds alone, given there’s an already thoroughly explained, very cogent environmental case for doing so!

    Meaning, those arguing for continuing to lock it away, have nothing left to stand on!

    Particularly if some of the most respected industry experts are proven correct, and we have more hydrocarbons to our immediate north than the entire Middle East; and a possible bonanza for the state?

    But only if we can park really obtuse ideology.

    And don’t we need a far safer less able to be disrupted supply of oil; and one no longer presided over by foreigners, with anything else but the national or Q’ld’s interests in mind!?
    It’s the economy stupid!
    Alan B. Goulding

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — February 17, 2015 @ 8:46 am

  2. A single cyclone is capable of doing more self repairing damage to our surprisingly robust reef, than the couple of hundred holes we might need to drill into parts of it in our lifetimes, to extract our oil and our gas.

    And lets not confuse fairly benign drilling with destructive mining; a patently mendacious claim designed to play on the emotions of the completely ignorant!

    Look, listen, learn, if I drill a few holes in a living tree, that is hardly likely to cause any harm, particularly if I plug the holes; however if I rung bark it, I will!

    I mean, we “mine” living trees for their rubber products, and year on year for the life of the tree, for heaven’s sake!

    I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of FOREIGNERS (Yanks Canuks)coming here and instructing us in what we are ALLOWED to do inside our own economic zone; with absurd claims, all while they remain strangely silent on oil extraction in the gulf of Mexico, or that proposed for Edmonton!

    All of which would become immediately nonviable, if we tapped into the huge and easily accessed hydrocarbon resource, said to lie to our immediate north.

    And that folks is their real concern, and to be stopped at any price!?

    Including using/uttering the most disingenuous and mendacious claims, aimed at the heart stings of fools!

    The real surprise is how quickly our so called leaders acquiesced, but particularly Labor as it sought and seeks to curry favor with the tail wagging the dog, greens!

    Let’s never ever forget, that Australian traditional sweet light crude leaves the wellhead as a virtually ready to use diesel, needing only a little insitu chill filtering to remove a few sand particles, and the soluble wax that creates that thick black smoke, or fouls the injectors on cold and frosty mornings.

    It’s time our erstwhile leaders started deciding these issues on their REAL merit, rather than the dogma and ideology of anti development activists, who would condemn us to continue to use and PAY FOR, fully imported fuels; that from wellhead to harvester, create as much as 4 times more carbon in total, than that, that lies virtually beneath our feet.

    Arguably, absolutely irrefutable environmental grounds for preferring to use our own traditional indigenous fuels.

    It’s not development killing our reef, but carbon pollution; which by the way sees half of it an already bleak bleached ruin!

    If we would save what remains, we and all others need to reduce the amount of carbon they’re pouring into the biosphere!

    And that needs the application of patent pragmatism, as opposed to rank propaganda and the incredibly deep pockets to pay for it and the so called environmentalists; replete with their endless, thou shalt nots!

    If our stuff is too thin, as sometimes claimed, we can recycle bitumen or substitute bituminous coal for the fully imported sulfur laden rubbish we now import; and or pay for with scarce export revenue!

    [Budget emergency, what budget emergency?]

    One of the disingenuous excuses for supposedly preferring the status quo?

    What could be wrong with a superior largely sulfur free diesel costing as little as 30 cents a litre, which in common use as proposed, creates four times less carbon pollution?

    And all happening ll while farmers are being forced to the wall or worse, by crippling energy prices!

    It’s time the Nats got serious and started crossing the floor on every issue, until this matter is resolved in the affirmative.

    Some day even the extremely recalcitrant greens would thank them/us for patent pragmatism!

    Surely not even those ignoramuses, would settle for becoming the poor white trash of Asia; and our almost certain destination, without significant shifting of direction.

    Simply put, when dogma and ideology replace reason and logic, we create some of the worst stuff-ups you can imagine!?

    A budget emergency?

    I mean, you wouldn’t think so would you; given some of the most asinine decisions being currently made in Canberra!?

    Look green advocates, “it’s the environment stupid”!
    Alan B Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — February 20, 2015 @ 10:06 am

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