After two weeks of political horse-trading, Australia’s political leadership is near to forging deals to be able to form a minority government for the first time in forty years.
The formation of the government though hangs in the balance and three independent MPs hold the power to elect either Labor or Coalition to the Prime Ministership. One of the three MPs, Tony Windsor in a radio interview said, “My guess is that … we’ll make a determination probably tomorrow morning,”
The other two MPs, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter have been courted by Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. The current headcount for Labor is 74 seats while the Coalition has 73 seats. There is a possible equal 75 seats for both parties and if and when this happens, new elections would be held right away. To prevent this, the three seats are crucial. “There’s three of us with a full spread of political views and policy views,” Oakeshott told reporters in Canberra.
The three MPs initially had agreed to work together for better leverage against the two parties seeking their votes. “It does look like we may have to make some choices about whether we stick together to get stable government or not,” Mr. Oakeshott added.
On another end, Tony Windsor has pushed his campaign for a better deal for the bush bailiwick of New England. He has pushed for a regional development framework and he found that both parties are hungry to deal. This has become one of the major sticking points for the three in retaining their common front.
One of the points though that all three have shown solidarity is the institution of parliamentary reforms in the incoming sessions. This is the creation of an independent speaker of the lower house, a position held by a member of the ruling party. Another change was the time limits on prime ministerial inquiries, allowing only 45 seconds for questions and four minutes for responses.
Another major change was the institution of the ceremony called the “acknowledge of country” which institutes the original ownership of the land with the Aborigines. These changes clearly show that there is a move to reduce the dominance of the prime minister and the cabinet on parliamentary business.
In all this, the government to be formed will have a very slim majority and thus very vulnerable to collapse despite the three king makers votes in Parliament.