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Australian Independent Won’t Rush Decision on Gillard, Abbott

Australian independent lawmaker Tony Windsor said he doesn’t “intend to rush” a decision whether to support the Labor Party or the Liberal-National coalition after a deadlocked vote at the Aug. 21 general election.

Windsor, in an interview on Channel Ten’s “Meet the Press” program today, said he aims to make a decision by the end of this week.

“It could take a little bit longer than that” for the election uncertainty to be resolved, he said in a separate interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s “Insiders” television program. “My part I don’t intend to rush.”

Four independent lawmakers and one Greens Party member in the lower House of Representatives hold sway over whether Julia Gillard’s Labor Party or Tony Abbott’s coalition will govern Australia. Neither Gillard nor Abbott gained an outright majority in the election, meaning one side must win support from the independent lawmakers to form a government.

A poll published in the Australian newspaper yesterday showed voters who elected Windsor and fellow independents Bob Katter and Robert Oakeshott in their rural constituencies want them to back Abbott’s coalition.

Abbott said today his coalition will respond to the concerns of rural Australians who believe they have been neglected by “city-centric politicians.”

“Everyone wants a better deal for country Australia,” Abbott said in an interview on ABC television. “We are far better placed to respond to the discontent.”

No Pressure

Windsor, who has a farm in his northern New South Wales electorate of New England, said that he doesn’t feel any pressure to support one party over the other. “The electorate would back my judgment,” he said today.

“There’s an opportunity to put in place some very positive things for regional Australia, and what we don’t want to happen -- and we think there’s only a 10 percent chance of this -- is to have to go back to the polls right away,” Windsor said.

Gillard and Abbott are trying to reach the 76 seats needed to form a government. Greens lawmaker Adam Bandt prefers a Gillard-led administration, while Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie has yet to make a decision.

Windsor, Katter and Oakeshott haven’t declared a preference for Gillard or Abbott and asked the leaders to detail the costs of their election promises.

The three may come to different conclusions after reviewing the policies, Windsor said in the interviews today.

Managing the Economy

Abbott will allow Treasury to evaluate his proposals, one of seven demands made by the independents who said they need to decide who can best manage Australia’s A$1.2 trillion ($1.08 trillion) economy. Gillard also will turn over the information.

The government accepted Abbott’s request that details of the costs of coalition policies not be released to the offices of the prime minister or treasurer, Gillard said last week. Abbott said he expects the cost details to be made public.

The election, the closest in 70 years, will determine whether Australian mining companies pay a new tax on profits and how Internet access is provided to the country’s rural areas. Vote counting was expected to continue today and tomorrow, Australian Electoral Commission spokesman Phil Diak said Aug. 27.

Windsor said Aug. 25 that it would be a “good 10 days” before all the votes were tallied.

The coalition holds 73 seats to Labor’s 72 seats, according to the Australian Electoral Commission’s website on Aug. 27.

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