Labour: Opposition Australian Labor Party more likely to form next government: Reports


CANBERRA (AUSTRALIA): The opposition Labor Party appeared more likely than Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s coalition to form a government after Saturday’s Australian election, which could result in a rare hung parliament.
The centre-left Labor Party could still form a majority government, based on an early vote count, lawmakers and analysts said. But the coalition’s only hope was to form a minority administration in a hung parliament.
“A full Labor majority is, I think very clearly, the most likely outcome of this election,” Labor lawmaker Chris Bowen told Seven Network.
Former defense minister Chris Pyne, who retired from the Morrison government in the last election, also ruled out the coalition winning enough seats to form a majority government. “The coalition can’t do it on its own, no,” he said.
The government was seeking a fourth three-year term.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s party ended the six-week campaign as favorites to win its first election since 2007. But Morrison defied opinion polls in 2019 by leading his coalition to a narrow victory.
His coalition holds the narrowest majority – 76 seats in the 151-member House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government.
At the start of the count on Saturday, the coalition was on track to win 38 seats, Labor 71, seven were non-aligned lawmakers and 23 were too close to be called.
Small parties and independents seemed to garner votes from larger parties, increasing the likelihood of a hung parliament and a minority government.
The most recent suspended parliaments in Australia date from 2010-13 and the Second World War.
A record proportion of mail-in votes due to the pandemic, which will only be added to the tally on Sunday, adds to the uncertainty of the early tally.
As well as campaigning against Labour, Morrison’s Conservative Liberal Party has taken up a new challenge from so-called teal independent candidates to the re-election of key government lawmakers in party strongholds.
At least four Liberal lawmakers appeared to have lost their seats to teal independents, including Deputy Liberal Party Leader Josh Frydenberg, who had been seen as Morrison’s most likely successor.
“What we’ve accomplished here is extraordinary,” said Teal candidate and former foreign correspondent Zoe Daniels in her victory speech. “Safe Liberal seat. Holder for two terms. Independent,” she added.
Teal independents are being marketed as a shade greener than the Liberal Party’s traditional blue color and want stronger government action to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions than the government or Labor are offering.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, expressed concern about the big swings towards several Teal candidates.
“It is a clear problem that we are losing seats that are seats of the heart, that have defined the Liberal Party for generations,” Birmingham said.
“If we lose those seats – it’s not certain we will – but there’s clearly a big move against us and there’s clearly a big message in there,” Birmingham added.
The first polling stations closed on the country’s east coast at 6 p.m. (0800 GMT). The west coast is two hours behind.
Due to the pandemic, about half of Australia’s 17 million voters voted early or requested postal votes, which will likely slow the count.
Voting is compulsory for adult citizens and 92% of registered voters voted in the last election.
Early voting for travel or work reasons began two weeks ago and the Australian Electoral Commission will continue to collect postal votes for another two weeks.
On Friday, the government changed regulations to allow people recently infected with COVID-19 to vote by phone.
Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said more than 7,000 polling stations opened as planned and on time across Australia despite 15% of election workers falling ill this week with COVID-19 and the flu.
Albanese said he believed Morrison would have called the election last weekend as the Australian prime minister is due for a summit in Tokyo on Tuesday with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“If we get a clear result today, whoever the prime minister is will be on a plane to Tokyo on Monday, which is not ideal, I have to say, immediately after a campaign,” Albanese said.
Analysts said Morrison had left the election until the last date available to him to give himself more time to reduce Labour’s lead in the opinion polls.

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