The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has begun counting millions of postal and absentee votes, as both the Coalition and Labor try to make their case to form government. The ABC computer still has 10 seats in doubt, but that figure should soon change as counting resumes in earnest. Attorney-General George Brandis said the Coalition remained “quietly confident” it could secure a “working majority” in the Lower House. “We hope that a final result in the narrowly contested seats will be available in coming days,” Senator Brandis said. But Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said if that was not the case he expected the regional independents to side with the Coalition. “Ultimately, regional people have more of an interest in the side of politics that has regional policies and [agriculture] policies and does the things that regional people want to do,” he told RN Drive.
The Labor Party has acknowledged it is unlikely to reach a majority of 76 seats, but it is not giving up hope of forming a minority government.
Senior frontbencher Anthony Albanese said Labor leader Bill Shorten was best suited to negotiations with crossbench MPs. “I think Bill Shorten is a very strong negotiator, that’s one of his great strengths,” Mr Albanese told 7:30. “There’s no-one better in a small room than Bill Shorten.”
But Mr Albanese also warned Australians could return to the polls “well before” a three-year term of government passed. “I think the Senate is going to be part-challenging and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we’re back at the polls not in three years’ time but well before then.”