Gillard claims government legitimacy for Labor

8:26 am on 23 August 2010

Despite a drubbing at the polls in Australia, caretaker Prime Minister Julia Gillard is adamant the Labor Party has the legitimacy to continue as the government.

The election has resulted in the first hung parliament since 1940. But the final result will not be known until overseas and postal votes have been counted. About 1.8 million people cast their ballots early.

The ABC predicts that once all the postal and overseas votes are counted, the Coalition will have 73 seats, Labor 72, the Green Party one and there will be four independent MPs.

Deal-making with the two main parties is well underway.

Ms Gillard said on Sunday she will negotiate in good faith with the independents to create a stable minority government.

Despite the ALP losing its majority, she believes Labor should have the inside running.

But Coalition leader Tony Abbott said Labor has lost all legitimacy and the voters have voiced their desire for change.

Radio New Zealand's political editor says that whatever the result of the final count, neither major party is expected to gain a majority.

That means the support of four independent MPs and new Green MP Adam Bandt, will determine whether Labor stays in power, or is replaced by a Coalition government.

The three incumbent, independent MPs - Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Bob Katter, are all former members of the National Party.

Mr Windsor says he won't be rushed.

"I'm not going to rush into anything," he said. "I'm quite happy to talk it through with people to see if stable arrangement that could be put in place if there is a hung parliament.

"If there isn't a stable arrangement the Governor General could become involved and call a new election."

Green view

Green Party deputy leader Senator Christine Milne says it's possible the Greens could work with the independents.

"We certainly work with them on a number issues," she said.

"I've certainly worked with them on a gross national feeding taskforce, biosecurity, taking on the duolopy of the Australian supermarkets to get better farmgate prices and challenging the coal industry which is taking over a large tract of agricultural land in Queensland and New South Wales.

"So there are a lot of things that we will work with them on and will continue to do so."

But Mr Abbott won't let Labor stitch up a deal without a fight:

"We stand ready to govern and ready to offer the Australian people, stable, predictable and competent government," he said.

"And over (the) coming days I will be talking to independents ensure a government can be formed that can be offered just that to the Australian people.