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Independent Oz MP may back Labor if mining tax dumped

Labour is set to bag 73 and the opposition party leader Tony Abbott getting 72 out of 150 seats.

Written by Agencies | Melbourne | Published: August 23, 2010 12:51:05 pm

With top Australian parties engaged in hectic efforts to cobble up a coalition after the cliffhanger polls,an independent-minded MP-elect has said he may support Labor of Prime Minister Julia Gillard if it dumps the mining tax.

With only a single seat,Hasluck in Western Australia,still in doubt,Labor is set to bag 73 and the opposition Coalition of Liberal party leader Tony Abbott would bag 72 out of 150 seats in Parliament’s lower house.

Both parties would be short of the magic figure of 76 required to form government in their own right,with the remaining four seats set to go to independents and Greens in the Saturday general election.

Meanwhile,independent-minded WA Nationals MP-elect Tony Crook said he may back Labor if they drop the mining tax,according to ‘The Australian’ online edition.

He said Labor “was starting (negotiations) from a long way back,they have a lot of ground to make up because that mining tax has been a red rag to a bull out here (WA).”

Crook won the West Australian seat of O’Connor,defeating Liberal Wilson Tuckey,who held the seat since 1980.

Another independent Rob Oakeshott dismissed speculation that he would be offered a ministry in return for supporting a minority Labor government.

“Only very much jokingly,nothing formal,” Oakeshott,one of three independent MPs in Parliament’s lower house whom both Labor and the Coalition might need to win over to form Australia’s first minority government in 70 years,was quoted by ‘Herald Sun’ as saying.

“This is not about political parties any more,” he said. It was an opportunity for the 150 members of the House of Representatives to consider all options for a clear majority and a confident Parliament for the next three years.

“If this stays about political parties,about an either-or choice about the red tribe or the blue tribe it won’t work and we will have to go back to the ballot box,” Oakeshott said.

Now was not the time for “personal wants or wishes”,he said. “This is not a time for offers.”

Electoral officials said that results could take days to finalise,as they wait to count postal votes.

Labor’s forecast tally rose to 73 as Tasmanian seat of Denison was called as a predicted win for it.

Labor and the Coalition are now fighting for the support of three critical rural independents,Bob Katter,from far north Queensland and Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott,from New South Wales.

New Greens MP Adam Bandt,winner in Melbourne,has shown willingness to join Labor that would take its tally to 74 seats,confirming that ex-Nationals independents Tony Windsor,Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott will be political king-makers.

Gillard and Abbott both have flown back to Canberra to begin negotiations to form a minority government.

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