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Australia set for first coaliation govt in 70 yrs
Sydney, Aug 22 (Agencies):
Published on 22 Aug. 2010 11:49 PM IST
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Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will continue talks with crossbench MPs today, as both leaders attempt to break the deadlock to form Australia’s first minority government in 70 years.
It could be days before the make-up of the new parliament is known after Queensland turned on Labor more savagely than the rest of the nation.
Vote counting continues in several too-close-to-call seats including Brisbane where long-time Labor MP Arch Bevis is in trouble.
Labor attempted to keep a lid on its recriminations yesterday as it concentrated on taking the first steps towards piecing together a workable government.
Sources said the Queensland backlash was partly due to Kevin Rudd’s dumping, anti-Bligh Government sentiment and damaging internal Cabinet leaks targeting Ms Gillard.
One said the leaker should be “politically castrated”. Insiders said Labor would not have fared any better in the state under Mr Rudd, and Ms Gillard’s leadership had saved seats in other states.
The Prime Minister, who is travelling to Canberra today, continues to govern in caretaker mode and has begun preliminary talks with the three re-elected rural Independents – Queensland’s Bob Katter, and Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott from NSW.
She also talked to possible new Independent Andrew Wilkie from Tasmania and Victoria’s Greens MP Adam Bandt. WA Nationals MP Tony Crook has signalled he will act independently of the Coalition.
“It is clear that neither party has earned the right to govern in its own right,” Ms Gillard said. She said Labor had won the two-party preferred vote, which meant “the majority of Australians voting . . . prefer a Labor government”.
“I think this is a critical fact to weigh in the coming days,” she said. Ms Gillard will lead negotiations with her deputy, Wayne Swan.
But Mr Abbott, the Opposition Leader, said he had also held “discussions to begin discussions” with some of the crossbenchers.
He said the Government suffered a “savage swing” and when it “lost its majority, it also lost its legitimacy”. “It is historically unprecedented for a first-term government to receive the kind of rebuff the Rudd-Gillard Government received and I think that the public expect a change of government as a result,” he said. But one hurdle for the Coalition is overcoming the bad blood between Nationals Leader Warren Truss and Barnaby Joyce with two of the kingmakers, Mr Katter and Mr Windsor.
Mr Windsor said he would deal with anyone, apart from Senator Joyce.
While Mr Katter said: “We are not saying it’s payback time, but it may well be pay-up time.”
Mr Truss said Mr Katter and Mr Windsor had been “regular critics of the Nationals and so certainly there hasn’t been all that much good will”.
“I think members who have been elected have got an obligation to try and make the parliament that’s been elected work, and we may all have to put aside any kind of past history in the interest of what we might be able to do in the future,” Mr Truss said.
Mr Bandt, who won the seat of Melbourne after former finance minister Lindsay Tanner retired, becomes the Greens’ first Lower House MP.
He said his preference was to side with a Gillard Government but his leader, Senator Bob Brown, said the party’s doors were open to either party.
The Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate from next July, after the election of their first senator in Queensland, Larissa Waters.

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