Labor grabs narrow majority
By Oliver Milman
Labor will form the next government after securing the support of two independent MPs, giving it a narrow majority.
Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor revealed that they would support Labor in terms of supply and no-confidence motions.
Earlier, fellow independent Bob Katter said that he would support the Coalition, saying that he wasn’t happy with the removal of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Labor’s policies on ethanol and wild rivers.
The decision gives Labor a precarious majority of 76 votes on the parliament floor compared with the Coalition’s 74. It will have to rely on the support of independents Andrew Wilkie, Oakeshott, Windsor and Adam Bandt of the Greens.
In a joint press conference with Oakeshott, Windsor says that the crucial factor for his decision was the two main parties’ differing policies on broadband.
While Labor supports the state-run formation of the National Broadband Network, the Coalition has proposed a smaller, private sector-driven strategy.
Broadband is seen as a crucial issue for start-up businesses, many of which are without high-speed broadband, particularly in rural areas.
“The National Broadband Network is the major infrastructure project of this century,” says Windsor. “I think it is too good an opportunity to miss. My advisors have suggested to me that with regards to broadband, you do it once, you do it right and you do it with fibre.”
In a longer speech, Oakeshott said that he was also supporting the Gillard government but added that he had: “come to a pretty similar conclusion of those at the ballot box and that is to be thoroughly unimpressed with the options available to us.”