Julia Gillard has declared Labor better-placed than the Coalition to form a stable government after Saturday's election. She believes Labor is more likely to win Greens support for its policies in the Senate. In a dramatic sharpening of her pitch to remain in office, the Prime Minister yesterday urged the three lower house independents who will anoint the next government to consider which party would be more likely to "process the business of the Australian people" in both houses of parliament. Her comments were designed to suggest that the Greens, who will assume a stranglehold over the balance of power in the Senate from July 1, are likely to block many of a Coalition government's policies and spending cuts.
Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are heading for a draw of 73 seats each. Further counting improved Labor's position in the Tasmanian seat of Denison, but the Liberals held their lead in Western Australia's Hasluck. The Australian Electoral Commission listed Labor-held Hasluck and the Liberal-held seats of Dunkley and Boothby as too close to call yesterday as counting continued. Despite the AEC giving Denison to Labor, where it is in a fight with independent Andrew Wilkie, the ALP said the seat was still too close to call. With the Liberals leading in the three close seats, the Coalition is on track to move from its current standing of 70 to 73, while Labor would improve from 72 to 73 if it gained Denison.
Governor-general Quentin Bryce is seeking advice on a potential conflict of interest caused by her daughter's marriage to Bill Shorten. As Labor and the Coalition are both seeking to form a minority government, Australia's head of state could be called on to determine which side of politics is most likely to form a workable majority in parliament. "The Governor-General is seeking advice on concerns raised about her personal position in the current political circumstances," a statement posted on Ms Bryce's website said yesterday. Mr Shorten, a Labor powerbroker and one of the so-called faceless men who pushed to remove Kevin Rudd as leader, married Chloe Bryce in a garden ceremony late last year. They had their first child in January.
Tamworth farmer Robert Jarratt says Tony Windsor is caught between a rock and a hard place. The independent MP can go with Labor and get broadband and better health services for his constituents, but that would mean political suicide. Or Mr Windsor can go with the Coalition, which would ensure he could hold his NSW seat of New England at the next election, while selling out the real interests of country people. Mr Jarratt, who describes himself as a swinging voter with conservative values, says the people of the rich agricultural region would mostly be horrified if their local member even considered an alliance with Labor.
Gains by the Greens in NSW have deepened the gloom for the NSW Labor government ahead of the state election next March. Along with an extra Senate spot -- secured at Labor's expense by former NSW Greens upper house MP Lee Rhiannon -- the party managed to give federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese a scare in his inner-western Sydney seat of Grayndler. By overtaking the Liberals and securing their preferences, the Greens have made Grayndler a marginal seat, leaving Mr Albanese with a two-party-preferred margin of about 5 per cent. The Liberals in NSW are planning to use the same strategy of "running dead" and preferencing the Greens next March to dispose of NSW Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt in the state seat of Marrickville, and NSW Education Minister Verity Firth in Balmain.
If Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are looking for a pointer into bending the independent MP Rob Oakeshott to their will they need look no further than the man who inspired his political evolution - the last Christian minister convicted of heresy. Peter Cameron, a Presbyterian, was the principal of St Andrews College at Sydney University when Mr Oakeshott studied political science. When Dr Cameron was tried in 1994 for supporting the ordination of women, Mr Oakeshott saw a man prepared to stand and fall for his principles.
Women: ever wondered how you could attract scintillating company from any number of hunky men who will focus entirely on you and your needs? Simple: just get out your credit card - a male brothel will soon be opening near you. Or at least that is the impression from assorted blogs and news outlets. Recently it was announced that New Zealand will be hosting its first male brothel, in Auckland, where women can ''either just drink and be titillated, or go the whole nine yards''. Behind the idea is Pam Corkery, a former politician who is trying to stitch up a deal with a reality TV channel to film the grand opening and subsequent shenanigans. She is looking for a suitable property. But one male escort who has been selling sex for 14 years in NZ has expressed surprise at her ''business plan'', saying women would not feel comfortable in a brothel.
The Victorian Greens have left the door open to helping Coalition leader Ted Baillieu form government if November's state election produces a hung parliament. The Age understands the Greens are likely to demand the transport portfolio if they seize the balance of power at the state poll. But the Victorian Greens won't be able to rely on being bankrolled by the Electrical Trades Union - as they were in their successful campaign for the federal seat of Melbourne at Saturday's election - with the left-wing union yesterday praising Premier John Brumby. Victoria's three state Greens MPs would not say which party they would back in the event of a hung state parliament.
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