Australia`s political deadlock set to end today

Australia`s agonizing wait for a new govt is expected to end on Tuesday.

Last Updated: Sep 07, 2010, 12:20 PM IST

Melbourne: Three "kingmaker" Australian
independent MPs are due to announce their decision about who will be the country`s next Prime Minister Tuesday.

The three independent leaders - Tony Windsor, Bob
Katter and Rob Oakeshott - have reportedly arrived at
Parliament House in Canberra for consideration of "final
documents" from both caretaker Prime Minister Julia Gillard
and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

There has been political deadlock in Australia as
August 21 elections returned the first hung Parliament in 70
years.

The trio, who hold the balance of power in the lower
house of Parliament, are set to pick who they will support
Labour or the Coalition to form a minority government despite
Windsor and Oakeshott saying they were yet to make a final
decision, according to AAP report.

Oakeshott said he faced a "wicked problem" and an
"unnatural choice" - before declaring both Abbott and Gillard
would make "very credible" prime ministers.

He said both the leaders had been impressive in the
way they conducted their negotiations, and he was about to
assess final offers submitted overnight.

"Both would make very credible prime ministers
regardless of what decision we make."

He further added that he hoped there would be some
respect for the hard decision the independents had to make.

"Hopefully there is a recognition this is an unnatural
choice that the three of us have got to make," Oakeshott said.

Oakeshott said whoever the independents supported, it
would not resolve the issues facing Australia.

"There is going to be as many negatives in the
decision we go with as there are positives. But we have got to
make a call," he said.

His colleague, Windsor, said he did not know if the
other two independents had made up their minds, and that even
his wife didn`t know his vote.

"We`re getting together for a final chat - the three
of us," he said.

However, Windsor did reveal there had been "to-ing and
fro-ing" amongst the three, and that his focus was avoiding a
75-75 deadlock between Labour and the Coalition.

"If the numbers went one way or another there`s the
possibility of another election," he said.

Asked if the independents would tell Gillard and
Abbott before revealing their decision, Windsor said he was
not sure. "We might well announce it to the Australian people
first," he said.

Windsor said once all information was before the
independents, they would reach a decision fairly quickly.

"I don`t think we have got to have a major debate over
it," he said, adding the focus on regional Australia was very
welcome and both leaders had tried to address the issues they
had raised.

That was likely to carry over to the parliament
irrespective of who formed government, he said.
"In that sense it will or should be a very exciting
parliament for regional Australia," he said.

"What we have seen in recent decades is a lot of
policy that impacts on country people is formulated with
city-based marginal seats political agendas in mind.

"I think we will see a more than subtle change in that for the period of this Parliament."
Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce today said he
was not overly confident the Coalition would win the August 21
federal election.

"It does not feel as confident as it should," he told
ABC Radio.

"You see the issues that are going on, and on, and on,
and you get a sense that the momentum is slipping away from
us."

PTI