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Which way will the independents go?

A hung parliament is looking almost certain, meaning neither the Coalition or Labor would be able to form a majority government

Julia Gillard has been stressing that Labor won the greater two-party preferred vote, and thus Labor should have the right to attempt to form a government.

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Tony Abbott, however, says the country ‘expects’ a change in government, and Labor would lead an illegitimate government.

For either to rule, they will need the support of three, potentially four independents, and possibly a Greens MP, Adam Bandt.

Adam Bandt – Greens MP-elect for Melbourne

Andrew Bandt has become the first Green elected in a general election, after he took Melbourne, Lindsay Tanner’s old seat, from Labor. He said he would be most likely to support Labor’s attempts to form a government, both before and after the election.

Although Bob Brown has downplayed the certainty of this, Julia Gillard Sunday said that they had already spoken, but admitted there may be a change in process sought. For one, talks on proportional representation – raised by Bob Brown after the polls on Saturday, could be on the cards as a key demand.

Rob Oakeshott – Independent MP for Lyne, NSW

The prospect of a hung parliament has been welcomed by Rob Oakeshott. Like the other independents, Oakeshott is a former National, and he’s described the prospect of a hung parliament as enlightening. Despite his former allegiance to the Nationals, Oakeshott is said to have become disillusioned with the party. But choosing a party to side with is a heavy burden, he said.

‘We can have good conversations with both, history doesn’t matter, this is about the country, not Tony, Julia and I’, he told the ABC. He said he would also like to speak to Bob Brown to see who the Greens are comfortable with in the attempts to form a stable government.

Oakeshott says they’ll have to take into account the make-up of the Senate, in which the Australian Greens are expected to wield significant power. ‘But’, he told the Nine Network, ‘my phone is open to the other 145 members of parliament who are serious about getting stable and outcomes-focused government.’

Tony Windsor – Independent MP for New England

Another former National, Windsor is highly critical of both Labor and the Coalition. He Sunday told the ABC that it is ‘pointless putting together a minority government that only lasts a few weeks’

‘We need to know the final numbers, who’s who in the zoo…to sit down with one side or the other, or both.’

But broadband could prove a key issue for his rural electorate. ‘With e-health, the capacity for real time involvement (in hospitals) – country Australia deserves to have the best facilities that it can.’ This could prove problematic for Abbott and the Coalition, and some pundits have already discussed the possibility of a change in tact in order to get Windsor, and other independents, on board.

Bob Katter – Independent MP for Kennedy, Queensland

Bob Katter is a former National, but has pointed to continuing issues with former Nationals colleagues.

“Warren Truss was the leader and he attacked me personally last night,” Mr Katter said. “And (Nationals Senate Leader) Barnaby Joyce in a similar piece of incredible unfortunateness.”

Bob Katter says ‘the gong goes’ to whoever will help rural Australia, and has also raised the issue of broadband, which could prove problematic for the Coalition. ‘A privatised broadband, I mean, please, don’t even talk about it, privatised Telstra has been absolutely disastrous for rural Australia,’ he said.

Katter would not say who he had spoken to on Sunday, but Tony Abbott said he had spoken to all of the independents in question.

Katter said he would continue conversations with the other independents.

“… we get on very well together, we work very closely together, we have similar backgrounds and we’ve simply agreed that we’ll walk in a room, close the door and not be taken advantage of by all you cunning media people,” Mr Katter told the ABC.

Andrew Wilkie – Potential Independent winner of Denison

Andrew Wilkie came to prominence after playing the role of Iraq war whistleblower, and then running as a Green, against John Howard, in the seat of Bennelong. Sunday afternoon he was yet to win the seat of Denison from Labor.

Animosity with the then Liberal government following his stance on the intelligence that took Australia to war in Iraq could spill over to 2010 – but Wilkie has also been critical of Labor.

He Sunday told the ABC that the election followed the most ‘vacuous and policy-lite campaign in living memory.’

He says he is ‘genuinely independent’ and said he would want the parties to convince him that stable, competent, and most importantly ethical government would be key for his cooperation. Pundits have speculated that talks into the Afghan war could be sought by Wilkie in return.

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