Yesterday’s decision by the High Court (sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns) in Re Gallagher means that there will have to be a recount of Territorians’ votes in the 2016 federal election to determine a new (hopefully eligible) Senator. Such recounts are relatively cheap things, as they are done electronically. The same is not true for the four by-elections that the decision’s reasoning indirectly prompted after four lower house MPs resigned. By-elections cost around $2M each. Together with the three other by-elections prompted to date and the $11.6M identified as post-budget ‘legal expenses – constitutional matters’ December’s mid-year statement, the cost to taxpayers of the dual citizenship issue so far as roughly $26M. These costs can’t, of course, be attributed to the High Court – the mere umpire in these matters.
But Tuesday’s annual budget – somewhat overshadowed by yesterday’s decision and its aftermath – reveals more about how much the High Court costs taxpayers. Continue reading