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Labor clings to power

By online political correspondent Emma Rodgers

Updated September 7, 2010 16:02:00

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have broken Australia's political deadlock by agreeing to back Julia Gillard in a Labor minority government.

After more than a fortnight of suspense, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor today revealed their intention to give Labor their crucial votes, meaning it has secured the 76 seats needed to rule.

Their decision came hot on the heels of Bob Katter, who earlier confirmed he would back the Coalition, putting it on 74 seats.

Ms Gillard is due to speak at 4:15pm (AEST) about the deal she clinched with Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott which will see her continue on as prime minister.

Fronting the media this afternoon both men explained their reasoning for backing Labor.

Mr Windsor said Labor's National Broadband Network and position on climate change were major factors in his decision, as well as a feeling that if he supported the Coalition it would rush to the polls.

He also made a plea to his conservative constituents not to turn away from a Labor government.

"This is about using the political system to advantage the people we represent," he said.

Mr Oakeshott said he considered who could form a more stable government, who had a better deal for the bush and who could work best with a Greens-dominated Senate when coming to his final position.

And he revealed that an offer of a ministry position had been made, but he would not confirm by which side and whether he would take up any offer.

Labor has promised a regional package as part of the deal, but the two men did not outline specific details, instead leaving that to Ms Gillard.

"I'm confirming for the Governor-General of Australia that today I will do what I've always done, ironically, and give confidence and supply to government and in effect that means confidence and supply in Julia Gillard," he said.

"This is going to be a cracking Parliament. It's going to be beautiful in its ugliness."

Mr Oakeshott's and Mr Windsor's decision to swing behind Labor is a bitter blow for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who came closer than anyone expected to winning the election. In recent days he pleaded with the country trio not to forget their conservative roots.

Having spent just three weeks in the job before she called the election, Ms Gillard has narrowly avoided becoming one of the shortest-serving prime ministers in Australian history and instead will lead Labor to govern in the country's 43rd Parliament.

When it sits, the new Parliament will be subjected a major overhaul, as brokered by the independents.

Question Time will be revamped, an independent speaker will be installed and there will be new powers for committees.

Today's decision comes 17 days after the federal election resulted in the loss of a swag of Labor seats in Queensland and New South Wales and left both major parties short of a majority for the first time since World War II.

Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor join newly elected independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Greens MP Adam Bandt in pledging their support for a Labor minority government.

Parliament is unlikely to sit for several weeks until the results from the election are finalised by the Australian Electoral Commission and the writs are returned.

Tags: government-and-politics, elections, federal-elections, australia, qld

First posted September 7, 2010 15:31:00

State of the Parties

76 seats required for victory

93.0% counted.
Updated Thu Sep 9 09:57AM
Party % Vote Swing Won Predict
Labor 38.0 -5.4 72
Coalition 43.7 +1.5 73
Greens 11.7 +4.0 1
Others 6.6 -0.1 4

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Election Live

76 needed to form government

93.0% counted.
Updated Thu Sep 9 09:57AM
Party % Vote Swing Won Predict
Labor 38.0 -5.4 72
Coalition 43.7 +1.5 73
Greens 11.7 +4.0 1
Others 6.6 -0.1 4
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