Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will meet with independent MPs today after Saturday’s federal election resulted in Australia’s first hung parliament since 1940.
Another election might be needed if agreement can’t be reached between either of the major parties and the independents who hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives.
Counting continues today, after neither party secured the 76 seats required to form government in Saturday’s election. Labor currently has 73 of the 150 seats, according to the Australian Electoral Commission, in Parliament’s lower house, while Liberal holds 70 seats.
There are five confirmed minor party and independent MPs, and five seats still too close to call, including another possible independent.
Liberal beat out Labor in Queensland and NSW, but Labor claimed McEwan and LaTrobe from the Liberals in Victoria, where it was last night holding on to Corangamite, with postal votes still to count. The national 2 per cent swing against the ALP means it could become the first government to be denied a second term since the Scullin Labor government was voted out in 1931.
In a bid to woo independent members, both sides could be set to modify their policies including faster broadband, better mental health services, bush jobs and increased dental care.
Labor leader Julia Gillard said stable government would continue, while she and Greens leader Bob Brown move to reassure financial markets.
The Greens, who created history when Adam Bandt won the seat of Melbourne, and will hold the Senate balance of power from July next year, said they wanted action on climate change, reconsideration on gay marriage and a parliamentary debate on keeping troops in Afghanistan.
Labor and the coalition are now battling for the support of three critical rural independents, Bob Katter, from far north Queensland, and Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, from NSW.
Greek Australian Labor MPs look set to retain their seats.
In South Australia, Labor’s Hindmarsh MP, Steve Georganas, who has held the position for two terms, is leading against Liberal candidate Jassmine Wood with Labor tallying 36, 672 votes and Liberal 28, 380 votes, at last count.
In Victoria’s Calwell electorate incumbent member Maria Vamvakinou is leading with 52,848 votes against Liberal candidate Wayne Tseng who tallied 22,903 votes, at last count.
Long-standing Liberal moderate Petro Georgiou’s replacement in Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, sustained a small swing against him to retain the seat for the Liberals, while Liberal MP for Indi in Victoria, Sophie Mirabella, was reelected for a fourth term on Saturday, with increased margins on her already safe seat.
Julia Gillard has asked the Australian population to look past Labor’s recent history and instead consider her personality as a basis for a stable federal government.
“I think I can credibly offer stability because people, I think, know about me and perhaps the Australian people see in me someone very focused, determined, methodical, gets a lot of work done, and I would run a government in that style,” she told the Herald yesterday.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott said Saturday’s result indicated that the public expected a change of government.
“It is historically unprecedented for a first-term government to receive the kind of rebuff that the Rudd-Gillard government received yesterday,” he told the Herald Sun on Sunday, adding that a minority Labor government would be “chronically divided and dysfunctional”.