The West Australian Senate election debacle could extend well into 2014 before it’s resolved, if events from Queensland’s electoral past are anything to go by.
At the Queensland state election on July 15, 1995, the opposition Liberal-National coalition raised concerns about the way the poll in the seat of Mundingburra was conducted.
Then-Labor minister Ken Davies won the north Queensland seat by 16 votes, which allowed the embattled Goss government to retain power by just one seat.
But Liberal candidate Frank Tanti claimed voters had been impersonated and some voters had cast more than one vote.
Six weeks later, a Queensland Supreme Court judge ruled the Liberal party petition challenging the win should be allowed to proceed.
It wasn’t until December 8 that Justice Ambrose, sitting in the Court of Disputed Returns, declared there should be a by-election in the seat.
Justice Ambrose found a total of 39 votes that weren’t counted should have been, and seven votes that were counted shouldn’t have been.
The by-election – which was scrutinised around the nation – didn’t take place until February 3, 1996.
Mr Tanti was declared the winner two days later.
Conservative independent MP Liz Cunningham then sided with the coalition, the Goss government fell and the Liberals’ Rob Borbidge was made premier.
State parliament did not sit until February 21, 1996 – just over seven months from the time the voting anomalies were first discovered.
Sorting out legal questions over the WA Senate election across an entire state could take much longer, potentially pushing the final result into the middle of 2014.