Independents claim crucial victories as Labor edges toward government

by The New Daily

Labor supporters are growing increasingly confident the party will be able to form Australia’s next government, but it remains to be seen whether it would be in their own right.

As it approaches the 76 seats needed for a majority government and independents claimed Liberal seats in New South Wales and Victoria.

As ballots continue to be counted across the country, Labor is looking on track to form at least a minority government.

With 25 per cent of the vote counted, the Coalition was on 35 per cent of the national primary vote to Labor’s 31 per cent.

The Greens were sitting on 12.6 per cent of the primary vote, while independents held just over six per cent.

The Coalition was particularly hard hit in Western Australia, where four seats – Pearce, Hasluck, Moore and Curtin – were lost in the face of massive swings.

Independent candidates could have a huge say on the makeup of Australia’s next parliament, with one former Liberal minister stating they may be a game-changer.

In North Sydney, Trent Zimmerman conceded defeat to Kylea Tink shortly after 9pm.

In Warringah, Zali Stegall appears certain to retain the seat once held by Tony Abbott, according to ABC elections guru Antony Green.

Former journalist Zoe Daniel claimed victory over Liberal MP Tim Wilson in the seat of Goldstein, while Treasurer Josh Frydenberg faces a strong challenge from Monique Ryan in Kooyong.

Allegra Spender, meanwhile, looks to have defeated incumbent Dave Sharma in Wentworth.

With counting continuing, Mr Wilson was facing a swing of just over 10 per cent against him at 7pm (AEST) in the Victorian seat, while Mr Frydenberg was holding on by a five per cent margin.

Climate 200 convenor Simon Holmes a Court, who is supporting the independent candidates, said two-to-four of the independents he’s backed would win seats. He said  making seats marginal was also important.

“The real thing to watch tonight is how many seats come down to a two-horse race between the independent candidate and the incumbent,” he told Sky News.

“We’ll see how many seats become marginal this election, which will be very exciting.”

Mr Holmes a Court said it was unsurprising the independent candidates had not declared who they would support in a hung parliament.

‘No strings attached’

“That’s absolutely a matter for each of the candidates to form a position, we were completely hands-off,” he said.

“No strings attached, completely up to them, but I understand … the successful ones will go into negotiations, and if you walk into a negotiation, you want to have as many options in front of you.”

Former Liberal minister Christopher Pyne labelled the teal independents “political deceivers” and “political frauds”.

“They have one purpose and that’s to remove small-l Liberal members from the party room and to make the Liberal Party more right-wing and therefore unelectable,” he told Seven News.

“Calling them independents is really quite false. It’s a very obvious campaign and I don’t think they’ll do as well.”

Ms Daniel said on Twitter she was hopeful of making history in Goldstein.

Crossbenchers seeking re-election from the last parliament included independents Zali Steggall, Helen Haines and Andrew Wilkie, along with Adam Bandt (Greens), Bob Katter (Katter’s Australian Party), Craig Kelly (United Australia Party) and Rebekha Sharkie (Centre Alliance).

-AAP