Bob Katter in Charters Towers. <i>Picture: Michael Chambers</i>

Bob Katter at home in Charters Towers. Picture: Michael Chambers

THE Coalition has won the seat of Brisbane, leaving the two sides deadlocked at 72 seats each, with six crossbenchers holding the balance of power.

Counting of 2300 votes yesterday sealed the fate of veteran Labor MP Arch Bevis, who has held Brisbane since 1990, with Liberal National Party challenger Teresa Gambaro taking a commanding 998-vote lead.

Victory in Brisbane gives the Coalition 72 seats in the House of Representatives, plus Western Australian National Tony Crook, who will sit on the crossbenches. While Mr Crook is generally likely to support the Coalition, WA's National Party considers itself separate to Tony Abbott's Coalition.

Labor would also have 72 seats, plus the support of new Greens MP Adam Bandt.

This means at least three of the four independents must pledge their support to one side or the other for Australia to have stable government for the next three years.

Yesterday, Mr Crook, who unseated veteran Liberal Wilson Tuckey, said he would be the hardest member of the crossbenches for the major parties to satisfy, and that he was happy to be a one-term MP. He said that while his latest talks with Mr Abbott were ''very positive'' about how his demand for more money to spent in rural WA could be met, he was still a long way from satisfied.

One side could try to govern without assured majority support, but would be constantly vulnerable to losing votes in the House, let alone the Senate.

Latest counting in Corangamite confirmed that Labor MP Darren Cheeseman will hold the seat narrowly from his Liberal opponent, former ABC TV journalist Sarah Henderson.

Only about 1250 votes were counted yesterday, with as many as 10,000 still to come, but Mr Cheeseman has increased his lead to 909 votes, suggesting Ms Henderson will need to get about 55 per cent of the votes from here on to win.

No other seats in the House are in any doubt. The Coalition held five of its own seats that redistributions had notionally given to Labor: Gilmore and Macarthur in New South Wales, Dickson and Herbert in Queensland, and Swan in WA.

The Coalition took seven seats from Labor in Queensland (Bonner, Brisbane, Dawson, Flynn, Forde, Leichhardt and Longman), two in NSW (Bennelong and Macquarie), one in WA (Hasluck), and one in the Northern Territory (Solomon).

But Labor took two seats from the Liberals in Victoria: La Trobe and McEwen.The only seat in doubt is Victoria's last Senate seat, which will not be decided for weeks.

In a tight three-way contest, Ballarat blacksmith John Madigan for the Democratic Labor Party has a narrow lead, ahead of two sitting senators, Liberal Julian McGauran and Family First's Steve Fielding.

With PETER KER