Verdict by independent MPs awaited

10:48 am on 7 September 2010

Australia's next government could be known on Tuesday, as three independent MPs finalise their negotiations with Labor and the Coalition on who they will back to form a minority government.

On Monday, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Bob Katter secured bipartisan support for parliamentary reforms, such as an independent speaker, time limits on questions and answers and an "acknowledgment of country" at the start of every parliamentary sitting day.

If the three independents back the Coalition, Tony Abbott would have the minimum 76 votes he would need to form a government.

If they support Labor, Prime Minister Julia Gillard would have 77 votes.

The three men have said they will try to work together to avoid a 75-75 stalemate.

The ABC reports Mr Oakeshott wanted the parliamentary reform deal struck before he would announce his position on which party should form government.

Mr Windsor has indicated the agreement brings that next step closer.

"This is a great moment in my view and I think in the next few days we'll see some other great moments occur," Mr Windsor said.

Shortly after their announcement, West Australian Nationals MP Tony Crook confirmed he would side with the Coalition in response to demands that he publicly declare who he will back to form government.

In a statement, Mr Crook said he would support the Coalition in matters of supply, but will sit on the cross benches.

Mr Oakeshott had said before he could make a decision on who he would back, he needed Mr Crook to clearly state who he was supporting.

Last week Labor secured the vote of both Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt and Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie.

The election was held on 21 August.