Tasmanian independent MP, Andrew Wilkie, has backed the Labor party and Julia Gillard to form the next Australian Government. The move is a boost for the ALP with the three other independents signalling that stability is a key consideration in their decision.
Speaking at a press conference in Canberra, the former intelligence analyst said his decision only extended to the Budget and votes of no-confidence against the incumbent Government.
“I have decided to support the ALP so a future Gillard Labor Government will have my vote on matters of supply,” he said. “Furthermore I will not support any unwarranted no-confidence motion against a future Gillard Labor Government.
“[But] in no way should my support be taken as support for any of their policies. I will approach every policy on its merits…I’ve made it clear to the Prime Minister that she shouldn't count on my support on when it comes to any particular initiative or piece of legislation.”
The move means the Labor Party has 74 seats with the Greens included compared to the Coalition’s 73 seats when the West Australian National party MP, Tony Crook, is included.
Both sides will be able to form Government if they can all three of the remaining independents to side with them. Wilkie said he hoped his move would signal the Independents to pick the ALP.
“I think it is quite likely that one or two, maybe three, of the independents will come on board with the ALP,” he said. “I think because of my decision, particularly with the news of this massive black hole in the Coalition’s [costing of] election promises, it’s now more likely that the ALP will get the numbers and even have a buffer to provide stable Government for the next three years.”
Wilkie had earlier signalled the completion of the National Broadband Network in his electorate by 2012 as a key consideration for him. It was one of 20 points he outlined in his letter of requests to both major parties.
Wilkie and the three other independents have all said high-speed broadband is important to them while expressing positive sentiments for the Government’s NBN.