Posted by Big Gav in australian politics
Crikey reports 2 of the 3 country independents have joined Labor, the Greens and Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie to form a new (likely much greener) Australian government - Labor to rule: Oakeshott, Windsor back Gillard.
Julia Gillard will cling to power by the narrowest possible margin after the independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor opted to back Labor, giving her 76 votes, after Bob Katter backed the Coalition earlier this afternoon.
The price of power is a substantial regional development package and an as-yet-unspecified role for Oakeshott, who says he is contemplating an offer — presumably from Gillard — for a role either as speaker or minister in the new government.
The two independents emphasised the importance of the government’s national broadband network project, in particular, and stability offered in both the House of Representatives and the Senate following Labor’s deals with the Greens and independent Andrew Wilkie last week. They also indicated the importance of Labor seeming to be the party more likely to commit to a full parliamentary term.
Windsor announced his decision first, specifying the importance of the NBN, and calling for country voters to seize this moment of relative strength to try to change the focus of a two-party system that Windsor said was performing poorly and not serving rural communities.
Oakeshott then followed with a long speech that tested the nerves of the attending journalists as he outlined the reasoning behind his decision, which he eventually announced was to support Labor. He also mentioned the importance of broadband, but also stressed the importance of regional and rural education, and specifically criticised the Coalition’s plan to cut funding to the school laptops program.
The decision brings to a close a dramatic post-election period of hung parliament in which both sides have courted the independents in a desperate bid to secure minority government. In the end, it appears that Kevin Rudd’s legacy was crucial to getting his assassin and successor Julia Gillard over the line.