Julia Gillard to head next Australian government

Independent MPs leave Labor with 76 seats, Coalition with 74

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard learned Tuesday that her party will form the next minority government after two independent candidates announced they would back her left-leaning Labor coalition. Ms. Gillard said she had no inkling that Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott would back her government until they made their joint announcement. After the August 21 general election, both the Liberal Coalition, headed by right-leaning Tony Abbott, and the Labor party, headed by Gillard, had received 72 of Australia’s 150 seats. Of the six other MPs, two are considered natural allies of the Coalition and one—the country’s first Green MP—chose to support Labor, leaving the three independents as kingmakers. Of the three independents, one announced his support for the Coalition on Tuesday afternoon, leaving Windsor and Oakeshott to decide the final tally. At a press conference shortly afterward, they announced their support for Labor. The final tally was 76 seats for Labor and 74 for the Coalition. Julia Gillard became prime minister on June 24 after the party dumped prime minister Kevin Rudd, whose popularity had fallen sharply. Gillard called an election three weeks after taking office. She is Australia’s first female prime minister.

Sydney Morning Herald

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.