Liberal party races ahead of ruling Labor in Australian polls
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Last Updated: Monday, August 30, 2010, 00:42
Melbourne: The Liberal party of Tony Abott on Sunday raced ahead of the ruling Labor party after its candidate Ken Wyatt today became the first Indigenous person to be elected to the Australian parliament, even as the political deadlock entered the second week.

With the election of the Liberal candidate the party's score in the cliff hanger general elections have gone up to 73 seats, with ruling Labor party winning 72 in the 150-member House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Wyatt became the first Indigenous person to be elected to the House of Representatives after grabbing Perth seat of Hasluck.

Australians voted in the country's first hung parliament in 70 years at the August 21 polls -- delivering Tony Abbott's Liberal/National coalition 73 seats and Prime Minister Julia Gillard's centre-left Labor 72, but giving neither the 76 seats needed to rule.

According to an ABC report, Wyatt addressed racist hate mails he had received since the election.

"I've had that all my life, growing up as an Aboriginal in the '60s, the '70s and the '80s," he said, adding, "What disappoints me is the work that's been done by Reconciliation Australia, we've certainly moved forward and I've walked with so many great Australians.

"As an ordinary bloke, I've walked with people within our suburbs and our community and to some extent there will be people who have differences of opinion."

"Let's move on from that - what's more important is the way in which we move Australia forward and the thinking that we have and the society that we build on," he said.

In congratulating Wyatt, Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop said there was no place for racism within the Liberal party.

"As far as the Liberal party is concerned, racism is totally and absolutely unacceptable," she said. "It's borne out of ignorance and hatred.

Ken will be a role model for all Australians and I have no doubt that some of the ignorance and hatred will was away as he brings his quiet dignity and compassion and wisdom to the Parliament of Australia," she added.

While there is still 8 per cent of the vote to be counted, Wyatt's lead of 984 votes makes it impossible for Labor to hold the seat.

Labor's Sharryn Jackson - who has lost and won back the seat before - has not yet conceded defeat.

With the final votes still being counted, Gillard, the first woman to lead the nation of 22 million, and Abbott are attempting to woo independent lawmakers crucial to gaining enough seats in parliament to form a government.


First Published: Monday, August 30, 2010, 00:42

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