Clive takes 111-vote lead in Fairfax count
CLIVE Palmer eased to a 111-vote lead over the LNP's Ted O'Brien in the slow vote for Fairfax yesterday.
The count is attracting national attention because of the closeness of the contest and the involvement of the country's most flamboyantly boisterous billionaire.
Neither candidate is responding to calls - Mr O'Brien under instructions from his party's headquarters, Mr Palmer because he is believed to be on business overseas.
The Australian Electoral Commission will today count the 300 remaining pre-poll and about 155 postal ballots before beginning a full distribution of preferences next week.
On trend Mr Palmer can expect to finish today's count 30 ahead of Mr O'Brien.
Returning officer David McKenzie said only 113 absentee ballots were counted after the exclusion of those who had said they were from Fairfax but were not on the roll.
Yesterday's count was considerably quieter with only four counters and four scrutineers for each candidate compared with up to 50 earlier in proceedings.
Rather than proceed to an automatic recount if the margin between the pair is, as expected, less than 100, the next stage will see ballot papers re-sorted into eight piles based on first preference votes.
The preferences of Ray Sawyer, the candidate with the lowest number of first votes, will then be distributed to the remaining four candidates below Mr O'Brien and Mr Palmer.
The order will then be re-sorted again so that the preferences of the lowest placed among them go to the other three and so on until all votes end in either Mr Palmer or Mr O'Brien's pile.
At that point a winner will be declared. If the margin between them remains less than 100 an automatic recount will be triggered.
In 1989 Bob King was elected as the Liberal Member for Nicklin and sat in the Queensland Parliament for 18 months until a successful appeal by National Party candidate Neil Turner, who was ultimately declared the winner by six votes.