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Key 'kingmaker' supports opposition in race to form government

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-07

As Australia races to form a government two weeks after inconclusive elections, independent Bob Katter (pictured right) said Tuesday he would support opposition leader Tony Abbott's conservative coalition, leaving the two camps evenly balanced.

AP - One of Australia’s kingmaker independent lawmakers said Tuesday he will support opposition leader Tony Abbott’s conservative coalition after inconclusive elections, bringing the conservatives closer to forming a minority government.

Following Bob Katter’s decision, Abbott still needs the support of two more independents if his Liberal Party-led coalition is to gain a majority of 76 seats in the House of Representatives needed to rule.
Undeclared independents Tony Windsor and Robb Oakeshott were expected to announce later Tuesday whether they’ll support the Liberals or whether they will back Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s center-left Labor Party.
Katter’s decision means the Liberals and Labor each now hold 74 seats. If neither leader gets to 76, another election will be called.
“I don’t know which way my colleagues are going, but if they go the other way, then she’s got one vote up her sleeve,” Katter said of Gillard.
The Aug. 21 federal elections failed to deliver any party a majority for the first time since 1940.
Katter said his decision would have no bearing on the decisions of his fellow independents.
“They are still in discussions,” Katter told reporters in his Parliament House office after leaving a meeting with his fellow independents.
Katter said he would have chosen differently had former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - who was replaced by his deputy, Gillard, in an internal party coup in June - still been the Labor leader.
“Kevin’s thinking and my thinking are very similar,” Katter said. “I’m very good friends with him.”
Katter said he had not told Gillard or Abbott of his decision before announcing his move to reporters.
“I haven’t told anybody at all,” he said.
Labor has ruled for the past three years and remains in control of a caretaker government.


Date created : 2010-09-07


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