The key crossbench senator, Steve Fielding, has threatened to help the Coalition block the legislative program and the monetary supply of a Labor minority government.
In another election surprise that adds to the confusion about who will form a minority government, Senator Fielding – who holds a crucial upper house vote for another 10 months – said it was clear the public did not want Labor for another three years.
”The election gave Labor a huge slap across the face, saying you’re not worthy of a second term,” he told ABC Radio.
Senator Fielding, who is struggling to retain his own place in parliament, is one of seven crossbenchers who will hold the balance of power in the Upper House until June 30, 2011.
He said he would not rule out voting against all Labor legislation. Nor could he guarantee support for government supply bills under a Labor minority government.
The Coalition, with Senator Fielding’s support, could stymie any legislation that comes from the lower house during the first eight or nine months of the new parliament. Senator Fielding said the Governor General needed to take into account the situation in both houses of parliament when considering which of the two major parties should be allowed to form a stable minority government.
”It’s a very, very tricky decision,” he said.
Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said he believed the Coalition and its supporters were angling for another election, a view rejected by Senator Fielding.
”No one wants to go back to another election,” he said.
Most of the major players in negotiations over a minority government have retreated to their homes for the weekend to prepare for further talks next week.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will have discussions with Andrew Wilkie, the independent candidate who appears to have won the Labor seat of Denison, in Melbourne about his role in the new parliament.
Mr Wilkie is refusing to side with the three country independents, who have initiated talks with Labor and the Coalition.
The standing of the two major parties in Australia’s first hung federal parliament in 70 years may become a little clearer as the counting of votes continues.
Both sides agree that Brisbane, held by Labor’s Arch Bevis, is the only seat in play nearly a week after the poll. The Liberals’ Therese Gambaro has a lead of 743 with nearly 80 per cent of the vote counted.
If Ms Gambaro wins Brisbane, the coalition will have 73 seats to Labor’s 72.