Things looking up for the bush: MP
Wednesday, 25th August, 2010
The re-elected Member for Farrer said a Coalition-led government would be better for the bush but that even if Labor got in, country people would be better off.
Federal parliament is in limbo with a minority government expected to be formed with the help of a handful of Independents, however vote counting from the election is not expected to finish for days.
A political party must have more than 75 votes, or half the seats in the House of Representatives, to form a majority government, but as at 2pm yesterday afternoon neither party had that. The ALP had secured 72 seats while the Coalition held 70.
Four seats were undecided, the Greens had secured one seat and the three remaining seats were won by independents - all former National Party members.
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said an independent-backed Coalition would provide better outcomes for Farrer as the Coalition had more than 30 rural or regional members of parliament.
"Labor has no rural MPs but there are 30-plus Coalition MPs in rural and regional (Australia)," she said.
"We've got a strong voice in the Coalition and if we're in government that voice will have a much bigger representation in parliament.
"The clear distinction here is who becomes prime minister ... If Tony Abbott became prime minister there will be more certainty for Farrer."
The independents all hold rural and regional seats. They are self-titled "wild man from wild country", Queenslander, Bob Katter, New England's Rob Oakeshott and the north coast MP for Lyne, Tony Windsor.
They, and The Greens' Adam Bandt, are currently negotiating with both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott about forming a minority government.
While she had no idea how the three former National MPs would swing, the Liberal Party's Ms Ley, who won her third federal seat on Saturday, believed their constituents would support a Coalition Government.
"I have no predictions. I don't think we can assume anything," Ms Ley said.
"I can say I believe their constituents would want them to support Tony Abbott over Julia Gillard because the rural agricultural areas overwhelmingly are supporters of the Coalition.
"(They all) had very low Labor votes."
Despite the men having issues with the National Party, she said it was possible for them to work with a Liberal/National coalition.
"I know there are personal issues between themselves and the National Party but I believe they will put that to one side," Ms Ley said.
"I believe that when they say they will put that behind them they will. I think they're approaching this exercise with a deal of integrity."
But she said that did not mean she was saying they would support the Coalition.
"No I'm not because they're voting record doesn't indicate that they've supported them over us," Ms Ley said.
"I actually don't know. I really think it's too early to think anything."
Ms Ley said an independent-backed Labor government would be better for Farrer than a Labor government in its own right.
"If they make a deal for rural Australia it would be better than if they weren't there," she said.
"A Labor government with three rural MPs would be a better position but not as good a position if it was a Tony Abbott lead government."
The four undecided seats are Boothby (sitting Liberal MP leads by 519 votes); Denison (Independent leads Labor by 1100 votes); Hasluck (sitting Labor MP trails by 317); and Dunkley (sitting Liberal MP leads by 497 votes).