It appears that the Coalition is going to win Australia's 2010 election despite a hung parliament. The result is clearly a Coalition win because the Coalition has 71 votes, Labor has 70 (plus Greens 1), there are 3 rural independent seats, and there are still 4 seats undecided.
The three rural independents all have a coalition background, and they appear to be voting as an 'independent bloc'. We might wonder whether these three MPs are the basis for a new political party. We might wonder what the Coalition can offer these 3 MPs. More than likely it will be better telecommunication services for these 3 rural electorates. Clearly rural communities will dislike Labor's emissions trading regime, and they will also dislike the tax proposed by tax on coal and iron ore miners. So it is also good news for miners.
The three independents are:
1. Rob Oakeshott in Port Macquarie, NSW. He is a likely Conservative supporter given his pragmatism.
2. Tony Windsor, New England NSW is a former National (Conservative), so he is likely batting with that team.
3. Bob Katter, Cape York, Nth Qld is another former Conservative (National Party)
All 3 independents have said they will back the party with the best chance of forming a stable government. That is destined to be the Liberal-National Coalition, as the Gillard leadership was in question prior to the election. Windsor and Katter are likely to want concessions by the Liberals on rural services like telecommunications.
The reality is that for all these independents, there is little prospect of them forming an agreement with Gillard. They will dislike her climate change policy, and at least Katter will be against the mining tax. The other two are likely to be more pragmatic, and the Liberals can argue that even if they do not offer the 'full telco' investment of Labor, they are not killing mining investment either. It will make it harder for the government however if these voters require nationwide telco coverage. I expect they will accept a compromise rather than test the electorate on another election.
Andrew Wilkie, is likely to win his seat, and is probably supportive of Labor, but he might be split, since he might force Gillard to move away from core policies. The Liberals for the Perth seat of Hasluck, Ken Wyatt, is close to victory. Whilst newly-elected Greens member Bandt, will support Gillard.
With three seats too close to call, it will be a week before we have a result and can know the government. Under Australian constitutional convention, Ms. Gillard, the standing prime minister, cannot form a minority government until the Australian Electoral Commission has officially declared the election result. The last time an Australian government had to rely on the support of independent lawmakers to form government was in 1943.