Aus­tralia in limbo af­ter vir­tual dead­lock

The Myanmar Times - - World -

AUS­TRALIA was in po­lit­i­cal limbo yes­ter­day af­ter vot­ers failed to hand Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull the sta­bil­ity he craved in call­ing an elec­tion, with the na­tion in­stead fac­ing the prospect of a hung par­lia­ment.

The for­mer banker went to the polls early look­ing to shore up sup­port and de­liver a strong gov­ern­ment based on a “jobs and growth” agenda af­ter oust­ing fel­low Lib­eral Tony Ab­bott in a party coup last Septem­ber to be­come the coun­try’s fourth leader in re­cent years.

But he now faces the prospect of hav­ing to deal with in­de­pen­dents and mi­nor par­ties to stay in power af­ter a nearly 3 per­cent swing against his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

De­spite a host of coali­tion MPs be­ing dumped, Mr Turn­bull in­sisted he re­mained “qui­etly con­fi­dent” while ad­mit­ting to a flurry of phone calls to bro­ker deals with law­mak­ers he may need on­side to re­tain of­fice.

Af­ter a host of postal votes were added to run­ning to­tals yes­ter­day, his Lib­eral/Na­tional coali­tion had 65 seats to La­bor’s 67, the Greens one and in­de­pen­dents four, re­sults showed.

That leaves 13 seats still too close to call with 76 needed to rule out­right in the 150-seat par­lia­ment.

A fi­nal out­come is not ex­pected un­til to­mor­row at the ear­li­est, and it could take weeks, with mil­lions of postal and ab­sen­tee vote – which ex­perts say tra­di­tion­ally favour the in­cum­bent – yet to be pro­cessed.

Mr Turn­bull had cam­paigned on tough asy­lum-seeker poli­cies and a plan to hold a plebiscite on gay mar­riage, but mostly on re­in­forc­ing his eco­nomic cre­den­tials as the coun­try tran­si­tions from a min­ing in­vest­ment boom to a more diver­si­fied econ­omy.

He also used the in­sta­bil­ity sparked by Bri­tain’s shock vote to leave the Euro­pean Union to warn that Aus­tralia must have “calm heads and a strong eco­nomic plan”.

But polls and the of­fi­cial #ausvotes Twit­ter feed showed health­care, fol­lowed by the econ­omy, ed­u­ca­tion and hous­ing, topped vot­ers’ con­cerns.

Op­po­si­tion leader Bill Shorten tapped into this, fo­cus­ing his last days of cam­paign­ing on health which helped La­bor bounce back strongly af­ter be­ing thumped by the con­ser­va­tives at the last elec­tion in 2013.

Busi­ness lead­ers said the pos­si­bil­ity of a hung par­lia­ment was bad news and urged a speedy res­o­lu­tion.

Mr Turn­bull called the elec­tion not just to shore up sup­port but be­cause cross­benchers – politi­cians who are in­de­pen­dent or from mi­nor par­ties – held the bal­ance of power in the up­per house Se­nate.

Even if he man­ages to form gov­ern­ment, there is no guar­an­tee the new Se­nate will be more amenable. –

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