Fairfax recount to begin after Clive wins by slim seven
HERE we go again. Starting tomorrow at 9am the Australian Electoral Commission will begin a full recount of more than 89,000 votes in Fairfax after one of the closest election results for a single seat in Australia's political history.
At lunchtime yesterday at the conclusion of the full preference distribution, Clive Palmer was seven votes clear of the LNP's Ted O'Brien.
Fairfax now remains the only undecided of 150 House of Representative seats following the federal election on September 7.
Scrutineering teams for both Mr O'Brien and Mr Palmer (Palmer United Party) have one day to regroup before the recount, which is expected to match the lawyers-at-five-paces intensity of the past three and a half weeks.
The recount process will be open to candidates' scrutineers, and updates will be issued by the AEC until counting is concluded.
It has taken the past seven days to process 27,000 formal votes cast for the six candidates ranked lower than Mr Palmer and Mr O'Brien.
The recount will involve all 89,173 votes lodged, including 4506 informal votes.
It is understood the LNP will run a workshop today for its scrutineer team.
Australian Electoral Commission staff will spend today preparing the divisional counting centre at Maroochydore, now the centre of the nation's political focus.
The closest finish in our political history occurred in 1903 in Riverina, where the margin was five votes. The election was called void and a by-election held.
In 2007 in McEwen the Liberal Party's Fran Bailey beat Labor's Rob Mitchell by 31.
Queensland's previous tightest finish was 35 in 1972, when Labor's Frank Doyle beat Liberal Kevin Cairns in the Brisbane seat of Lilley, now held by Wayne Swan.
Mr Cairns' daughter Kathleen has been on Mr O'Brien's scrutineer team for the past three weeks.
Mr O'Brien said yesterday that most people wanted a speedy conclusion to counting.
"And that's fair enough,'' he said. "Still, though, the process needs to be respected so every person's vote is counted, especially since it's come right down to the wire.
"No matter who wins, the most important thing is that people get the person for whom the majority voted."
Mr Palmer was unavailable for comment.
He had been ahead by 42 votes over the weekend but that was whittled away on Monday until only three votes separated the pair.
He stretched that lead back out to nine votes yesterday morning before finishing seven ahead with 42,337 of the two-party preferred vote to Mr O'Brien's 42,330.