Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor Party will retain power after winning the backing of two independent MPs today.

The Australian election has been tantalisingly close, after polls two weeks ago put the Labor and Liberal (Conservative) parties on an equal footing. The two parties have since been vying for the support of a green MP and a handful of independents.

Backing by the independents

Today, Gillard’s Labor Party won the backing of MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. The Labor Party Gillard has already signed a deal with the Greens on climate change policy in exchange for their support. 

Meanwhile, Bob Katter today announced his support for Tony Abbott, the Liberal leader.

Labor’s close margin

As a result of the backing by independents, Gillard will now remain in power for another three-year term, with the support of 76 MPs. Seventy-four MPs back the opposition, making the Labor Party winners by only the closest possible margin.

After two weeks of frantic bargaining with the independent parties by Gillard and Abbott, Labor’s win is hardly a triumphant landslide.

“It’s like a football match that’s decided by one point. I think the loser is unlucky and the winner is very lucky,” Australian National University political scientist John Warhurst told AFP.

“It could have gone either way, in the end I suppose it still could have gone either way right up to the very end.”

Minority government policies

Climate change has featured heavily in Gillard’s election campaign and Labor’s win means she can now go ahead with her plans to introduce a 30% tax on the profits of Australia’s big polluters such as iron ore and coal mining companies.

Windsor, who is forming part of the minority government with Gillard, has promised an upgraded broadband system for the country, while Oakeshott said the independents had secured a deal with Labor to encourage regional development and to hold a tax reform summit.

Gillard’s election victory speech

Julia Gillard is now the first woman to be elected Prime Minister as her earlier role as PM was a result of seizing power from former Premiere Kevin Rudd in a cabinet coup.

“Let’s draw back the curtains and let the sun shine in,” Gilllard said in her victory speech, broadcast on national television.

“Labor is prepared to deliver stable, effective and secure government for the next three years.

“I will always be working for this nation’s future.” 


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Tags: Australian election result, Election 2010, Minority government, Australia election polls, election day, votes, Labor Party, Liberal-National Coalition, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott