The West

Greens face big bill after court loss

The cash-strapped Greens had a costly day in the High Court yesterday, where their legal response to the bungled Senate vote count was thrown out and they were ordered to pay other parties' court costs.

Last month, Greens senator Scott Ludlam petitioned the court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, to order a fresh Senate election in WA if it found he had not been duly elected on September 7.

Senator Ludlam and Australian Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich were declared winners of the fifth and sixth WA Senate spots after the Australian Electoral Commission overturned its original result that Labor's Louise Pratt and Palmer United Party's Dio Wang had won.

Senator Ludlam did not dispute the validity of the election that installed him to the Senate amid the loss of 1370 votes, and called for a new election only if the court concluded he should be replaced.

Yesterday, Justice Kenneth Hayne ruled the petition did not meet the requirements of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

"The petitioner, to adopt his own words 'does not dispute the validity of the election'," he said.

Justice Hayne ordered that Senator Ludlam bear the costs of the Liberal, Labor, PUP and ASP candidates in responding to his petition.

The AEC will pay the costs of parties responding to its petition for a fresh election but not the costs relating to other petitions.

With the parties hiring top barristers, who can charge up to $12,000 a day, the Greens' costs for its petition are set to run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Senator Ludlam said he did not think yesterday's decision was "too much of a setback" because the AEC's petition, still in play, was similar.

However, he said the party had stepped up its fundraising efforts to pay for the legal fight.

Justice Hayne will hold a two-day hearing next week to consider the AEC request for a new poll.

The West Australian

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