Tony Windsor, one of three independents who will decide who leads Australia, said he’ll return to his electorate at the weekend to chose whether Prime Minister Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott should form a government.
“It’s a matter of what I can live with and I’ll make an announcement Monday or Tuesday,” Windsor said in an interview in Canberra. “I’ll think about the information over the weekend back in my electorate.”
Windsor, Robert Oakeshott and Bob Katter have been courted by Labor’s Gillard and Liberal-National coalition leader Abbott since the deadlocked Aug. 21 election. The three lawmakers were also briefed by government officials on each side’s plans to manage the A$1.2 trillion ($1 trillion) economy.
Gillard’s chances of forming a government were boosted in the past two days when she won the support of Greens member Adam Bandt and independent Andrew Wilkie. Labor holds 71 seats compared with the coalition’s 73 seats. One electoral division remains undecided with 86 percent of the national vote counted for the House of Representatives, according to the Australian Electoral Commission website at 8:38 a.m. today.
“We’re inching towards Gillard being able to form a government,” Nick Economou, a political scientist at Melbourne- based Monash University, said by phone today. “The fact that Gillard has signed that agreement with the Greens is important.”
The Greens will hold the balance of power in the upper house after the election and “realistically, she’s the only one that could make a claim to be able to govern over the long haul because of the situation in the Senate,” Economou said.
“I want to act in concert with my colleagues,” Katter told reporters in Canberra today. “I will be strongly influenced by the position of my colleagues. We’re in a very powerful position.”
Wilkie told reporters yesterday that “it is quite likely that one or two or maybe three independents will come on board” and support Labor. “It is now more likely the ALP will get the numbers and perhaps even have a buffer to be able to provide stable government for the next three years.”
Windsor said he isn’t influenced by Bandt and Wilkie’s decision to back Gillard. He said he wants a “stable and secure government” as well as better Internet services for his electorate in the seat of New England in New South Wales state.
“In the end it’s my gut feeling and what I think is best - - not what other people or members think is best,” Windsor said, saying he would mull the decision at his 6,000-acre grain and beef farm. “I’ll have to live with the decision.”