With a hung parliament looking likely the ‘gang of five’ — four independents and a Greens MP, are crucial to any attempt at forming government.
Who are they and what are their issues?
After voting failed to deliver a majority Labor or Coalition government, four independent MPs and the first elected Greens MP have been thrown into the spotlight.
* Bob Katter, MP for Kennedy, Queensland
* Rob Oakeshott, MP for Lyne, NSW
* Tony Windsor, MP for New England, NSW
* Andrew Wilkie, likely independent MP, Denison, Tasmania
* Andrew Bandt, Greens MP, Melbourne
Sunday morning, there were still 80,000 uncounted votes in four seats – with two tipped to go to Labor, and two to the Coalition – likely leaving both unable to hit the ‘magic number’ of 76.
With pundits forecasting a hung parliament – where a potential government would have difficulty passing legislation – four independent MPs and a lone Greens MP could find themselves very popular.
Independents to hold talks in Canberra
The prospect of a hung parliament has been welcomed by Independent MP Rob Oakeshott.
“It’s a very exciting and enlightening moment,” he told Sky News on Sunday. The NSW MP intends travelling to Canberra later on Sunday for talks with two other independents Tony Windsor (NSW) and Bob Katter (Qld).
Oakeshott says they’ll have to take into account the make-up of the Senate, in which the Australian Greens are expected to wield significant power. Oakeshott was re-elected to the seat of Lyne with a big increase in votes.
In Tasmania, Independent Andrew Wilkie looks set to take Denison in Tasmania after preferences go his way.
Oakeshott, Windsor and Katter were all once Nationals, while Wilkie won headlines as the Iraq war ‘whistleblower’, as well as running as a former Greens candidate.
On top of that, Andrew Bandt has become the first Green elected in a general election, after he took Melbourne from Labor. He has said he would be most likely to support Labor’s attempts to form a government.
But for the independents, it is unclear who they may support.
Bob Katter says ‘the gong goes’ to whoever will help rural Australia, while
Mr Katter says he expects to meet within the next two days with fellow independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor. He said they’d worked together well in the past and that should continue.
“… we get on very well together, we work very closely together, we have similar backgrounds and we’ve simply agreed that we’ll walk in a room, close the door and not be taken advantage of by all you cunning media people,” Mr Katter told the ABC.
“(We will) determine a responsible course of conduct to which we can move forward.”
Mr Katter said he’d not yet decided where his support would go but pointed to continuing issues with former Nationals colleagues.
“Warren Truss was the leader and he attacked me personally last night,” Mr Katter said. “And (Nationals Senate Leader) Barnaby Joyce in a similar piece of incredible unfortunateness.”
Mr Katter refused to divulge if he’d been contacted by Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott, saying only that he’d received phone calls
from “very powerful people” who could influence the course of events.
He said improving the ethanol industry and broadband infrastructure were high on his agenda.
“A privatised broadband, I mean, please, don’t even talk about it, privatised Telstra has been absolutely disastrous for rural
Australia,” he said.
Stability, health, broadband, water, rewnewables
Wilkie has said he wants ‘stable, competent, and ethical’ government.
Oakeshott wants stable government and a parliament that ‘can deliver outcomes’
Mr Windsor said he had received a phone call from Ms Gillard and Liberal frontbencher Joe Hockey, both congratulating him on his win in New England. Windsor told the ABC that the potential stability of a new government would be the most important factor for him in deciding where to go from here. He then listed health, broadband, water and renewable energy as other crucial issues.
He said his discussions with Oakeshott and Katter would try and find what common ground there is, while they may also have to seek advice on the constitutionality of each scenario.