Canberra will welcome its first female Muslim MP after Australian academic Dr Anne Aly claimed the West Australian seat of Cowan today following a mistake by the Australian Electoral Commission.
While counting has not yet finished, with around 10,000 mostly absentee votes expected to favour Labor to come, Aly’s lead increased by 25% today when 200 Greens votes were found that had been wrongly allocated to the sitting Liberal MP, Luke Simpkins. Of those, 160 preferences went to Labor.
Simpkins, who wanted to ban wearing burkas, once claimed that eating halal food was “one step down the path of conversion”. Last year, to the bemusement of fans of Perth nightclub Villa, the MP claimed on Facebook that that stickers on a bridge were the Shahada symbols, popular with Islamic State, and he contacted a state minister to have them removed. It subsequently emerged that the stickers were for the logo for the nightclub’s regular “Speakeasy” evenings and had been up there for two or three years.
Aly is now ahead by 786 votes, a lead Simpkins, who first won the suburban Perth seat in 2007, is unlikely to overhaul.
The AEC said the mistake with the ballot papers, which happened on election night in a single polling booth, was discovered this morning as part of “normal checks and balances”.
Egyptian-born Aly moved to Australia when she was two and is a professor an Edith Cowan University. The extremism expert is a Muslim and founder of People Against Violent Extremism. She is regular critic of Islamic State and offers the government advice on counter-terrorism measures to combat radicalisation.
She will join fellow Labor MP Ed Husic as just the second Muslim MP in the federal parliament.
The final vote in Cowan is expected to be finalised next week, with the wait for any outstanding postal votes ending on Friday.
Meanwhile, the ABC is predicting the Coalition will former government with a 76-seat majority as two key Queensland seats likely to go to sitting LNP members.
In Flynn, sitting LNP MP Ken O’Dowd is around 900 votes ahead of Labor, while another LNP incumbent, Michelle Landry, leads the count in Capricornia by 670 votes.
The third seat in doubt, Herbert, has Labor challenger Cathy O’Toole 200 votes in front of sitting MP Ewen Jones.
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