Clive Palmer denies Q&A plant
Palmer United Party leader says that his candidate for the seat of Sydney, Tim Kelly, was not planted in the audience of ABC's Q&A program on Monday night.PT1M37S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2tvxr 620 349 September 17, 2013
Billionaire political aspirant Clive Palmer has come under fire for his appearance on the ABC's Q&A program in which he fielded a question from one of his own party's election candidates who was in the audience without disclosing who he was.
The mining magnate had been berating the Australian Electoral Commission [AEC] for what he believed was its lack of fairness and transparency on Monday night's show when an unnamed audience member posed a question to the panel.
That audience member was in fact Tim Kelly, a Flight Centre business development manager who stood for the Palmer United Party in the seat of Sydney in the federal election.
Clive Palmer gave no indication that he knew the person asking the question. Photo: Screen grab, ABC 1, Q&A
But it was only eagle-eyed viewers at home who pointed out the identity of Mr Kelly on social media.
"Clive made a point earlier, why are we in 2013 still using pencils and in America they at least have a computer system and other countries," Mr Kelly asked.
"What is the go with the pencil and paper?
Tim Kelly stood for the Palmer United Party in the seat of Sydney. Photo: Screen grab, ABC 1, Q&A
"I'm concerned in 2013 we're not using the technology to make it safe to give an accurate account."
Mr Palmer gave no indication that he knew who Mr Kelly was as he launched into his response.
"You can rub it out," Mr Palmer said of the pencil.
"The issue is, you don't have to show your ID when you vote. As simple as that. You have to show your ID when you get on an airplane, you have to show your ID when you go into a country, but when you vote in this country you can come and vote 10, 20, 30 times if you like."
Viewers at home were quick to point out the real identity of the audience member.
"Hey, @QandA, the man who asked Palmer about using pens while voting was his candidate for Sydney. Disclosure?" tweeted Tim Christodoulou (@tim-chr).
Andrew Jaffrey (@AndrewJaffrey) tweeted: “Will #qanda disclose the questioner about pencils/pens is Tim Kelly the Palmer candidate for Sydney? Just asking.”
Kelly, who was beaten in the seat of Sydney by Labor's Tanya Plibersek, later posted on Facebook that he was not planted in the audience.
"I did ask the whole panel their thoughts," he wrote. "Also Clive did not know I was in the audience prior."
The incident came on a dramatic day of counting in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, where Mr Palmer was leading his Liberal National Party opponent Ted O'Brien by just 362 votes.
Palmer sought a Federal Court injunction to suspend counting after the AEC identified an error which had led to about 750 ballot papers being recorded against the wrong polling place.
The AEC confirmed in a statement on Monday that about 750 votes attributed to the Buderim pre-poll voting centre on the AEC website should have been recorded against the Coolum Beach pre-poll voting centre. But the AEC said the "sorting error" made no difference to the total number of votes recorded for each candidate.