CANBERRA (Reuters) - Three independent and one Green MP who could decide the make-up of Australia’s next government will hold their first meeting on Tuesday to discuss whether to back Labor or the conservative opposition.
Some market and political analysts are tipping the three independents to back the conservatives, but all three have had rows with the conservative coalition’s smaller National Party.
Two of them have actually voted more with Labor than the conservatives in the previous parliament and both are barely on speaking terms with some senior National members.
Here are some facts about the possible independent and Green kingmakers of Australia’s next parliament, and voting records.
* Voted five times with Labor, eight with the conservatives.
* Wants to rebuild tariffs to protect farmers, backs services for regional areas. Views cross the right-left spectrum. Likely backs Labor on hospitals and broadband but sides with conservatives against the mining tax. Suspicious of China resource investment.
* An outspoken former National Party member, Katter turned independent in 2001 after finding himself at odds with conservative trade, economic and social policies. Katter is typical of regional Australia, being suspicious of immigration and gay rights. He once described citizenship ceremonies as “de-wogging” — “wog” is a derogatory term for southern European immigrants — and promised to walk backwards across the outback if homosexuals were found living in his Charters Towers home. Katter is hugely popular in his electorate and has seized on dissatisfaction with the major parties. Unlike conservatives, he is hostile to privatization and economic reform. Katter is unpredictable, but of the three he is least likely to side with Labor and is a critic of his home state’s Labor government. He says he will support the party that better serves rural communities like his.
* Voted 19 times with Labor, 16 with the conservatives.
* Wants better health, education, communications for rural and regional areas. Hates the National Party. Likely backs Labor on health services, education and high-speed broadband. Thinks carbon trading is not as important as renewable energy. Probably supports the mining tax.
* Windsor, 59, is a pragmatic farmer and former state lawmaker. Like Katter, he aims to represent farming and regional communities. But Windsor has promised to support whoever has the most seats and votes in the new parliament. Windsor has in the past clashed with the Nationals, claiming they made him a 2004 offer to quit politics to make way for a conservative. Police were called in. Windsor says he will work with anyone apart from top conservative Barnaby Joyce, whom he called a “fool.” He is an advocate of better health services, education and communications for the regions, including Labor’s high-speed broadband vision.
* Voted 28 times with Labor, nine with the conservatives.
* Wants better health, education, communications for rural and regional areas. Could be speaker of the lower house in deal with Labor, and backs parliamentary reform. Supportive of Labor emissions scheme as long as independent body in charge. Probably supportive of Labor’s mining tax and broadband.
* Another former state conservative who dumped his party, the popular Oakeshott is from a coastal seat north of Sydney which he won in a 2008 by-election. During his fight for parliament, the National Party attacked him as a secret Labor supporter. In his seat, farming is giving way to tourism and retirees. He is wary of development, is a friend of Windsor and, like him, a supporter of better rural and regional services. He describes himself as economically conservative and socially progressive.
* New, likely to support Gillard and Labor.
* The former barrister says he would side with a Labor minority government. The Greens support Labor’s plan to build a national broadband network and favor a tougher mining tax than the one Labor proposes. Bandt has campaigned hard on improving Melbourne’s public transport system. Supports the idea of making polluters pay for carbon emissions. Also backs gay marriage.
Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Mark Bendeich