Sydney: Australia`s conservative chief
Tony Abbott told three minority lawmakers who will decide if
he should become prime minister that he offered a "fresh
start" in an eleventh-hour plea for their support.
Last month`s inconclusive elections left both
Abbott and Prime Minister Julia Gillard short of the 76 seats
needed to claim victory, and the question of who will govern
rests with three independent rural MPs.
The undecided trio, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and
outspoken maverick Bob Katter, are due to make their final
decision within days, and Gillard boosted her case today by
signing off on a request for political reforms.
But a defiant Abbott warned the men that a vote for
Gillard`s ruling Labour party was "endorsing factional
warlordism and ... incompetence," referring to Gillard`s
ruthless axing of former PM Kevin Rudd shortly before the
"Fourteen million Australians have given the
(opposition Liberal/National) coalition the most seats and the
most votes," Abbott wrote in an open letter published by the
Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
"But the election now turns on the decision of just
three independent MPs."
Abbott touted his party as more sympathetic to the
needs of people in rural electorates, despite reports that
Windsor backed Labor`s plan to build a high-speed National
Labour frontbencher Anthony Albanese accused Abbott
of trying to bully the independents, and said they were
"people of integrity" who would make a decision in the
"The coalition has become increasingly shrill, have
increasingly gone from a position of talking about parliament
being a more gentle place and there being more co-operation,
to one of almost trying to intimidate people into making a
decision in their favour," Albanese told commercial
Abbott staged a dramatic comeback at the polls and
needs three seats to fall over the line; Gillard has won over
the lone Greens lawmaker, Adam Bandt, and another independent,
Andrew Wilkie, and needs just two.