Palmer just seven votes ahead of O'Brien ahead of recount
CLIVE Palmer has finished seven votes clear of Ted O'Brien after the completion of a full preference distribution in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax.
The outcome will almost certainly trigger a full recount of all 89,173 ballots cast on September 7 although the Australian Electoral Commission has still to officially confirm that will be the case.
Mr Palmer, the Palmer United Party leader, was 42 votes ahead of Mr O'Brien (LNP) over the weekend but was reeled back to a three-vote margin by the close of counting last night.
He stretched that lead back out to nine votes this morning before finishing seven ahead with 42,337 of the two-party preferred vote to Mr O'Brien's 42,330.
Palmer clings to three-vote lead after mistakes found
THE seat of Fairfax was on knife's edge last night with just three votes separating the LNP's Ted O'Brien and the PUP's Clive Palmer in the only seat left undecided following the September 7 federal election.
A volatile day of preference distribution left Mr O'Brien on 42,332 votes compared with the Palmer United Party leader's 42,335.
Mr O'Brien was trailing Mr Palmer by 42 votes over the weekend but that quickly changed yesterday as a string of minor counting errors that had been missed on four previous examinations, all went his way.
It was a remarkable outcome after 89,173 ballot papers had been sorted and resorted.
Of that number 4506 were ruled informal, and were not counted.
Fairfax Returning Officer David McKenzie said he expected the process to be completed today.
Mr McKenzie said a decision will be made at the completion of the full distribution, as to whether the rigor of the process negated the need for a full recount.