Australian parties seek backing of independents

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They were the only independents in the last Parliament and are former members of the Nationals party, which is a coalition partner of the Liberals. All have said they are open to supporting a Labor minority government.

“Whichever side it is, we need to have some stability and maintenance of stability so that the government can actually work,” MR. Windsor told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

“We might end up back at the polls,” he added, referring to the possibility of another election if a support pact cannot be negotiated.

All three independents have made a key issue of boosting the poor telecommunications services in rural Australia. Labor went to the polls promising a 43 billion Australian dollar (U.S. $38 billion) high-speed optical fiber national broadband network. The Liberals promised a smaller, slower 6 billion Australian dollar (U.S. $5.35 billion) network using a range of technologies including optical fiber, wireless and DSL.

Greens party leader Bob Brown said no agreement had been reached after a “cordial” conversation with Ms. Gillard, who was seeking the support of newly elected Greens lawmaker Adam Brandt, who previously stated his preference for a Labor government.

Former Greens member Andrew Wilkie, an independent candidate contacted by Ms. Gillard, said Sunday he would not talk about which party he might support until his own seat was certain.

No Australian government has had to rely on the support of independent lawmakers to rule since 1943. Two independents changed the government in the preceding three-year term by switching their allegiance from the conservatives to Labor.

The election results were expected to be the closest since 1961, when a Liberal government retained power with a single seat, and might not be known for a week.

With more than 78 percent of the vote counted, the Australian Electoral Commission said Labor had won 70 seats and the Liberal coalition 72. Most analysts agree that the coalition is likely to finish with 73, one seat ahead of Labor.

Analyst Norman Abjorensen, an Australian National University political scientist, said the most likely outcome would be an unstable minority government led by Abbott and supported by three independents.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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