Australian government hopes to win after last votes counted

Turnbull said yesterday he remained "quietly confident" of returning his coalition, which retains government in a caretaker mode until a victor is declared, to power for another three-year term.

If all the seats in doubt fall according to who is now in the lead, the Coalition would finish with 73, Labor 72, 1 NXT, 1 Green, 1 Katter and 2 independents.

Turnbull said he had no plans to meet Queensland-based Hanson while he was in her state on Thursday.

Mr Shorten fronted the media in western Sydney on Monday saying Malcolm Turnbull had delivered an "inferior and unstable" outcome.

The ruling Coalition could yet win a slim majority but is expected to end up with fewer than 76 seats, which will leave it - or even Labor - scrambling for the support of the independents.

"We're looking at having about five independents or minor party MPs who will be the king-makers in all of this", he said.

The surge in support for independents, combined with rules that make it easier for smaller parties to win Senate seats in a so-called double dissolution of parliament, will likely make it impossible for Turnbull to push through policies including a A$50 billion ($37.19 billion) corporate tax break over 10 years.

The latest projections by the ABC shifted two seats into the government's column, giving Turnbull's Liberal-National coalition 71 out of 150 lower house seats, and the centre-left Labor opposition 67.

The then election was also neck-and-neck between the Labor party, led by Julia Gillard, and the Liberal coalition, led by Tony Abbott. "But there is a strong probability for a hung parliament".

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The close result surprised many analysts, who thought the coalition would retain key marginal seats. If no alliance can be forged, the government could end up calling yet another election - a possibility sure to frustrate politically tired Australians who have endured five changes of prime ministers in as many years.

It's the growing disconnection between Australians and the major political parties.

Fitch Ratings said if political gridlock leads to a sustained widening of the budget deficit it would put downward pressure on the rating, especially if the economic environment deteriorates. "We talk about the 24-hour news cycle and so on, and I think that's starting to make it hard for parties in government to say, 'Well, you're not going to see any benefits from this policy for the next few years but it'll be good in the long term'".

Monash University political analysts Nick Economou said Australia's new Senate could prove more resistant to free trade deals and globalization initiatives after two minor protectionist parties were among the winners at the election.

The Australian Electoral Commission blames the slow count on the laws that govern elections dating back to 1918. The party will now likely have three senators and a lawmaker in the House of Representatives.

Five seats were listed as close, and another six as "not yet determined".

The new makeup of the Senate could result in further legislative limbo.

Labor is unlikely to have the numbers to form a minority government. With no party holding a majority in the Senate, the next government might have to strike deals with Hanson and other independents to get contentious legislation passed.

  • Sonia Alvarado