United Australia Party senator Ralph Babet and founder Clive Palmer fail in Voice referendum court bid

United Australia Party senator Ralph Babet and founder Clive Palmer fail in Voice referendum court bid
  • PublishedSeptember 20, 2023

United Australia Party senator Ralph Babet and founder Clive Palmer have lost a court bid to count crosses on Voice referendum ballot papers as a “No” vote.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) maintains that on October 14, the word “Yes” or a tick will be counted as a “Yes” vote, but a cross, or “X” will not be counted as a “No” vote, because its meaning is ambiguous.

Mr Babet and Mr Palmer sought an urgent Federal Court ruling that any ballot papers with just an “X” alone in the voting space provided, would show that a voter does not approve of the proposed change to the constitution.

They also proposed an alternative ruling that ballot papers with just a tick symbol should be counted as informal votes, saying it would not prove a voter intended it to be affirmative of change.

According to the AEC, to correctly cast a vote in this referendum, people should write “Yes,” in the designated box, or “No”.

The AEC has strongly urged voters not to use ticks or crosses on their ballot forms.

In its advice, the commission says crosses are used on many forms in daily life, and could mean approval or rejection, and therefore will be counted as an informal vote.

A clearly defined tick can only be interpreted as showing approval for something, and so will be counted, but the AEC has asked that voters “please don’t” use symbols.

In the Federal Court, the AEC argued it was following the same legal advice it had received about referendums for many years, and that advice was clear, and unproblematic. 

Justice Steven Rares dismissed the application and ordered the pair to pay costs.

He said as the vote was less than four weeks away, any appeal would need to be lodged quickly.

Justice Rares said a cross could mean disapproval, not wanting to answer the question at all, or an unwillingness to answer it.

He said a tick was different because it suggests “an affirmative response,” or “approval”.

“It does not convey a negative response,” he said.

Justice Rares said the United Australia Party was deregistered in late 2020-2022, so there was doubt about whether the men had authority to lodge the case at all.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *