Australia's hung parliament 'kingmakers'

  • Published

With Australia set for its first hung parliament since World War II, the ruling Labor party's Julia Gillard and Liberal challenger Tony Abbott are seeking support from independents, including the country's first-ever Green Party MP, to form a coalition.

We profile the five MPs thrust into the spotlight as potential kingmakers.


Image caption,
Adam Bandt is Australia's first Green MHR

Adam Bandt, elected as Australia's first Green Party member of the House of Representatives, has previously said he would side with Julia Gillard's Labor party in the event of a hung parliament.

On Sunday the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Green Party Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon as saying she thought it unlikely that Mr Bandt would support any minority government led by Tony Abbott.

A former barrister, Mr Bandt won about 55% of all votes in the key seat of Melbourne Inner-City with a large 10% swing.

The Green Party supports Labor's plans to create a national broadband network, but favours stricter taxation of mining companies than that proposed by Labor.

Mr Bandt campaigned on a platform of improving public transport in Melbourne.

He is a strong supporter of gay rights, including same-sex marriage, and also campaigns against low pay.

On Sunday Bob Katter told Australia's ABC that he would work with any party as long as it benefited his constituency, adding that he had previously co-operated with people he "loathes and detests".

Image caption,
Bob Katter is a climate change sceptic

With his trademark Akubra hat, 60-year-old Mr Katter has represented the vast outback seat of Kennedy, Queensland, since 1993.

He has a reputation for unpredictability, and won re-election as an independent in 2001 after leaving the National Party where he was widely known by the nickname "Mad Bob".

Mr Katter opposes free trade and has said he would like to see a 10% duty imposed on all goods imported into Australia.

He is also a vocal climate change sceptic and is sometimes described as "anti-politician".

Image caption,
Mr Oakeshott says he is socially progressive

Speaking to ABC on Sunday, Rob Oakshott suggested the formation of a bloc between himself, Bob Katter and Tony Windsor to negotiate with the main parties in forming a coalition government.

A friend of fellow independent Tony Windsor, Mr Oakeshott has represented the New South Wales coastal seat of Lyne since 2008 after winning a by-election, and is projected to win again this year.

Like Tony Windsor, he supports the development of rural services and infrastructure.

He describes himself as economically conservative and socially progressive.

Tony Windsor has said he hopes to find "common ground" with his fellow independent MPs before any negotiation with the main parties.

Image caption,
Tony Windsor is a former farmer

On Saturday he told Sky News: "If the three of us are involved in some negotiations that we find out if there is any common ground, if not, we'll just go about it our own way."

Mr Windsor had previously promised to support the party with the most votes and most seats in the event of a hung parliament, but told Sky News that he currently saw few differences between Labor and the coalition.

"There is no-one in the building that's not a conservative now," he said.

A former farmer and state politician, Mr Windsor, 59, has represented the New South Wales seat of New England since 2001.

He is a strong supporter of better health, education and communications services for Australia's remote communities.

A former member of the National Party, Mr Windsor campaigned as an independent in the 1991 state election, winning the seat of Tamworth.

Image caption,
Andrew Wilkie resigned over the Iraq war

Andrew Wilkie is projected to win the seat of Denison in Tasmania in what remains a close race

He has played down discussion of possible coalitions.

Speaking to the AAP agency in Hobart on Sunday he said: "I just want to get elected first".

Mr Wilkie also stressed that his former membership of the Green party counted for nothing.

"I am genuinely independent," he told AAP. "I am going to put it to the Labor Party and the coalition to convince me that you can deliver stable government for three years, competent government for three years and ethical government for three years.

"I'll support whichever party can do that."

Mr Wilkie is a former soldier and intelligence official who resigned in 2003 in opposition to Australia's support for the US-led Iraq war.

He unsuccessfully ran as a Green Party candidate in the 2004 and 2007 elections.

His 2010 independent campaign focused on the need for political reform and greater federal funding for Tasmania.

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