Ministry offer a joke
INDEPENDENT MP Rob Oakeshott has laughed off suggestions he has been offered a ministry in return for supporting a minority Labor government.
“Only very much jokingly, nothing formal,” he said on radio yesterday.
Mr Oakeshott is one of three independent MPs in parliament’s lower house that Labor and the coalition might need to win over to form Australia’s first minority government in 70 years.
“This is not about political parties any more,” he said.
It was an opportunity for the 150 members of the lower house 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,” Mr Oakeshott said.
Now was not the time for “personal wants or wishes”.
“This is not a time for offers.”
Mr Oakeshott said he had spoken with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
The independent MPs were trying to finalise a timetable for negotiations by the end of yesterday, he said. But it could be two weeks before anything was clear.
Meanwhile, fellow NSW Independent MP Tony Windsor says he got rid of “two cancers” when he gave up smoking and left the Nationals in the 1980s.
However, Mr Windsor also says he can work with anybody.
He refused to give a clear indication of whether he would align himself with Labor or the coalition to form government.
“There’s a way to go yet and I’d ask people to breathe in,” he said.
“There’s a process at work, the world won’t come to an end and we’ll make sure there’s good governance hopefully for longer than a short period and hopefully for three years.”
Mr Windsor said he can’t make a decision until the situation becomes clearer.
“I can’t because I don’t know what kind of a piece of plasticine I’m dealing with,” he said.
Mr Windsor denied his former membership of the Nationals would sway him towards the coalition, and he was scathing of Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce.
“I’ve never been in parliament as a National – I gave up smoking about the same time (and) I’ve rid myself of two cancers,” he said.
“So I wouldn’t use that in terms of just because I was a member of the National party right back then, that that means anything now.”
Senator Barnaby Joyce was “stupid” to urge the candidates to move quickly, he said.
“I won’t be dealing with him – I don’t like the guy,” he said.
Mr Windsor said he would be meeting with the other independent Mr Oakeshott and Bob Katter in Canberra today to discuss their preferences.
The implementation of the National Broadband Network remained a big campaign issue for him, but he didn’t trust either party, Mr Windsor said.
“Both sides of government have got to have a really close look at getting it right,” he said, adding Labor’s policy was “written on the back of a cigarette paper”. “(But) it’s a better option than the coalition’s, no doubt about that,” he said.
STATE OF PLAY
(includes Tony Crook in O’Connor)
Boothby (Sitting Liberal MP leads by 670 votes)
Dennison (preferences being distributed by Australian Electoral Commission yesterday)
Hasluck (Sitting Labor MP trails by 363)
Dunkley (Sitting Liberal MP leads by 620 votes)
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