Court gives green light to Palmer Party

THE Palmer United Party has been cleared to run in the state election after an appeal against its registration was dismissed in the Supreme Court this morning.

Former PUP candidate Marti Zucco applied to withdraw his appeal in Hobart this morning, telling Chief Justice Alan Blow that while he still thought he had a winnable case, he believed the Tasmanian Electoral Commissioners right to have discretion over applications to register a party would see it overturned.

Chief Justice Blow dismissed the appeal, rather than allowing it to be withdrawn, on the request of Solicitor-General Leigh Sealy SC who was acting for the Electoral Commission. Mr Sealy said a dismissal was required to provide certainty to the party on the eve of the election.

However the legal battle does not end there: Palmer United Party Tasmanian secretary James McDonald made an application for costs, which under the Tasmanian Electoral Act is only allowed if the court is satisfied the appeal is ``frivolous and vexatious.''

Chief Justice Blow clarified the requirement, telling Mr Zucco: ``frivolous has a technical legal meaning, it's got nothing to do with humour, it means that it was hopeless.''

``It sometimes happens this way, someone drops an appeal, everyone breathes a sigh of relief, and then parties get into an argument over costs which means deciding who would have won,'' Chief Justice Blow said.

Outside court, Mr Zucco said he intended to take Palmer United Party's process of registering and obtaining ``financial members'' to the Integrity Commission.

Mr Zucco said the party's constitution required immediate membership payment and alleged it was using a scheme announced in October last year to waive the membership fees for Tasmanians to cover the fact that it did not have the requisite number of financial members to complete the application for registration.

Mr McDonald said the scheme allowing Tasmanian members to waive their membership fees until June 30 meant that some of those who signed the party registration had payed their fees and some had not, but he said all were ``financial members''.

``We put our application into the electoral commission and they have approved our application,'' Mr McDonald said.

``Now we're getting on with our campaign and contesting the election.''

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