Clive Palmer wins Fairfax by just 36 votes

21 Sep, 2013 11:41 AM
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It was hardly a Titanic victory.

Mining giant Clive Palmer was named the winner in the seat of Fairfax on Saturday by just 36 votes, in a knife-edge result that will lead to a recount on Monday.

Mr Palmer responded to the announcement by calling for an overhaul of Australia's voting processes, and called our independent voting body ''a national disgrace''.

''The ballots have no security and the AEC is a national disgrace that needs to be heavily scrutinised,'' he said. ''A full review of Australia's voting system is required - our right to a transparent democracy demands it.''

The Australian Electoral Commission finished its count at 2.30pm, announcing that Mr Palmer had won the seat by three dozen votes after rising from an earlier margin of only 22 votes.

If the margin at the completion of the distribution of preferences is less than 100, a recount is automatically triggered.

The AEC will waste no time, beginning the recount on Monday.

''There will be a full distribution of preferences, which is a fresh count in any case,'' AEC spokesman Phil Diak said.

Mr Palmer is overseas and has this week been having tests of a miniature Titanic II model conducted at a facility in Germany.

He has repeatedly criticised the AEC for giving voters pencils to vote, saying they can be easily smudged, and has claimed the vote in Fairfax was rigged.

''I will continue to fight to hold the AEC accountable, as they've shown themselves to be greatly incompetent with no transparency,'' Mr Palmer said on Saturday.

''We will be highlighting the many discrepancies we've uncovered in the Court of Disputed Returns.''

The close tally gave Mr Palmer 42,367 votes after preferences, compared with LNP candidate Ted O'Brien's 42,331 votes.

Although Mr O'Brien attracted 41.35 per cent of the primary vote in the Sunshine Coast seat - well ahead of Mr Palmer's 26.47 per cent - preference flows from supporters of Labor and the Greens helped put the Palmer United Party founder into the top position. While absentee votes have favoured Mr Palmer, pre-poll and postal votes have heavily favoured Mr O'Brien, who has clawed back Mr Palmer's lead since the September 7 federal vote.

Mr O'Brien got about 60 per cent of the postal votes, many of which would have been submitted before Mr Palmer's multimillion-dollar advertising blitz dominated the campaign's final weeks. He spent $1.9 million on advertising in August, according to the ABC, ranking third in spending on the campaign.

The mining magnate has now threatened to use his Queensland senator-elect, Glenn Lazarus, to block Tony Abbott's bills in the upper house unless electoral reforms are offered.

Retiring LNP member Alex Somlyay held the Sunshine Coast-based seat since 1990.

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