Election count shows parties likely to be deadlocked

7:10 pm on 23 August 2010

The latest election count in Australia shows the Coalition and Labor are likely to be deadlocked at 73 seats each.

Australia has its first hung parliament since 1940 after neither the governing Labor Party nor the Coalition, led by the Liberals, won the 76 seats needed on Saturday to govern alone.

The latest count shows that the Tasmanian seat of Denison could be won by Labor, giving them 73 of the 150 seats in parliament, the ABC reports.

Three seats are still too close to call and there is uncertainty over the outcome of at least one other as election vote counting continues on Monday.

The result in Denison is very close but if the seat falls to Labor's Jonathan Jackson, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is likely to have 73 seats in Parliament, there would be three independents and one Greens MP.

The ABC's election computer is suggesting the seat of Hasluck in Western Australia and the electorate of Brisbane will go to the Coalition, giving it 73 seats.

But there is the complication that one of those seats is O'Connor where the WA's Tony Crook defeated the Liberals' Wilson Tuckey.

Mr Crook says he will not form part of the Coalition and has vowed to put the state's interests first.

The latest predictions have given Labor confidence. Senior ALP figures say with 73 seats, Labor MPs they could work with Green MP Adam Bandt to be closer to forming a minority government.

The Coalition and Labor each hope to form a minority government, but the Australian Electoral Commission says the final result may be another two weeks as overseas postal votes have until 3 September to get in.

Caretaker Prime Minister Julia Gillard has not ruled out offers of ministerial positions or the role of speaker as days of talks loom between Labor and the bloc of MPs.

However, she denied the political limbo meant the country was in crisis, instead painting it as an opportunity to make reforms to Parliament.

Ms Gillard and Liberal leader Tony Abbott have returned to Canberra on Monday.

Independents vow to work together

Three key independent members of the parliament will meet on Monday night to discuss how they will use their positions on the cross benches in a hung parliament and have promised to work together as closely as possible.

Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter look set to hold the balance of power along with the Green MP Adam Bandt, whom they will meet in the coming days.

Both major parties are courting the Independents in the hope of winning their support to form a minority government.

Mr Oakeshott says he has already been contacted by Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott.

Final numbers wanted first

Tony Windsor, who holds the seat of New England, told ABC's News 24 that decisions will be made once the numbers are crunched.

"That's when we've got to sit down and make the decisions. No Liberal or Labor party are going to do a deal when they don't know the numbers themselves."

Mr Windsor said his previous support for a minority Coalition government in New South Wales should not be seen as a vote this time around.

Mr Oakeshott, who holds the seat of Lyne, said voters have shown they want change in the federal parliament.

He echoed Mr Windsor's sentiments, saying the independents are planning to stand "shoulder to shoulder" for as much of the process as possible.

"So that leaders don't have to talk individually to all of us, we don't get picked off by political interests and vested interests, and that we can keep the focus genuinely on the outcome of a parliament that can work for the next three years," he said.

Mr Oakeshott said he and his colleagues want to reach an agreement that guarantees stable government, but if not, Australia will have to go back to the ballot box.

Bob Katter, who holds the seat of Kennedy in the outback of Queensland, said they would sit down and work through a range of options.

"I'm in charge of my vote but I get on well well with the other two [Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott]," he said.

However, Mr Katter also said it was pointless to make a deal until he knew the real numbers.