A week after Australia went to the polls the outcome is still unclear. However, the way the cards are falling I’d put my money on Julia Gillard remaining Prime Minister and Labor retaining power.
The current seat count is:
72 – Labour
72 – Coalition
1 – Green (to support Labour)
1 – Western National (to support the Coalition)
4 – Independents (3 former Nationals, and anti-war campaigner Andrew Wilkie)
Now let’s look at the House with those numbers together making the assumption that Wilkie, whom the Liberals wanted to jail at one point, will side with Labour.
74 – Supporting Labor
73 – Supporting Coalition
3 – Undecided former Nationals
What’s clear from those numbers is that Tony Abbott would need all three remaining independents to form government, whereas Gillard would only need two of three. That makes it a lot easier for the Prime Minister.
And even though these key independents are former Nationals, personality clashes and bad blood almost eliminate this advantage.
Further factors are:
1) Tony Abbott had refused Independents’ demands to allow Treasury to cost the Coalition’s promises, and made up two different excuses as to why. And though he’s now conceded this point it must look very suspicious for the independents.
2) The Greens will from July 1 hold the balance of power in the Senate. That will make it extremely difficult for a Coalition government to get legislation passed through the upper house. The independents have a far better chance of getting their policies through if they support a Gillard-led government.
Although the numbers are still unclear, I’d say all signs point to Gillard.