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Vote counting resumes as Labor and Coalition face leadership scrutiny
10:45 pm GMT+12, 04/07/2016, Australia

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) will begin counting millions of postal and absentee votes today, as both the Coalition and Labor try to make their case to form government.
 
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull emerges from his Sydney home, saying he will not heed Bill Shorten's advice to resign.
 
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 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.”
 
But as both sides push their case to form government, neither can escape leadership scrutiny.
 
Under party rules, if Labor loses an election, a ballot would be held for the leadership.
 
Albanese is considered Shorten's main rival, as he contested the last ballot in 2013.
 
But Albanese said he thought the party would "continue forward" with Bill Shorten at the helm.
 
When asked if Shorten would remain as leader if Labor remained in Opposition, Albanese told 7.30 he wanted to help.
 
“I think we will continue forward with Bill Shorten as the leader,” Albanese said.
 
“I'll be playing a role as part of the team, as I always have.
 
Meanwhile, amid criticism of the Coalition's campaign, Senator Brandis issued a call for unity.
 
“All of us then need to respect the verdict of the Australian people and get behind Malcolm Turnbull," he said.
 
Labor had called on Turnbull to resign for failing to provide the stability he promised, but Coalition frontbencher Josh Frydenberg dismissed that on the ABC's Q&A programme.
 
“In terms of stability in politics I think there is a very strong desire from the public to have that, and they don't want three prime ministers in three years, or six prime ministers in six years,” he said.


SOURCE: ABC/PACNEWS


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