Canberra: Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected opposition calls for his resignation.
On July 4, opposition Labour Party Leader Bill Shorten called for Turnbull to quit as leader of the Liberal National Party coalition, claiming that the premier was “out of touch” and was unable to provide parliamentary “stability” which he promised to Australian voters throughout his campaign, Xinhua news agency reported.
But on July 5, Turnbull said he would not be stepping down from the position and described the Labour leader’s attack as purely political.
“Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” Turnbull said of Shorten, “I’m sure he would (like me to resign).”
“I don’t think we’ll be taking advice from the leader of the opposition, I think he couldn’t think of anything else better to say.”
The election’s vote count resumed early on July 5 with postal votes and pre-poll votes set to be tallied, two days after the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) said it could take weeks to get a decisive result from all seats.
Turnbull said he was confident of a forming a majority government despite numerous election analysts suggesting Labor had, by July 5, secured more seats than the coalition.
“The count is continuing and we remain confident that we will secure enough seats to have a majority in the parliament,” Turnbull told the press.
“All the votes have been cast and it’s now simply a matter to count them so we’re just awaiting that.”
Meanwhile the nation’s Attorney General George Brandis has played down concerns that the deadlocked election was bad news for Australia or the coalition; he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that there’s “no such thing as a failed election”.
He said there was nothing unusual about the deadlock, despite Trunbull facing a wall of conservative criticism, both from political commentators and from within the far-right factions of his party.
“An election always produces the parliament the people choose,” Brandis said.
“Sometimes that’s a large majority, sometimes a narrow one, and sometimes the party that forms government relies on other elements of the parliament to govern, but there’s nothing unusual here.”
Conservative factions of the coalition have already hinted at discontent within the party; the ABC reported that anonymous sources would have no issue ousting Turnbull at a partyroom meeting if he “sells out” the conservative principles of the party while brokering a deal with independent MPs.
A decisive result to determine the government still might not be known for days, while the final results from tightly-contested seats may be in limbo for weeks.
On July 4, both Turnbull and Shorten began talks with independent MPs in an attempt to form a minority government.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) said it could take up to a month to determine the final results of elections on July 2.
So far, the AEC tally has Labour leading in 69 seats and the ruling Liberal-National coalition leading in 64 seats.
Five seats were listed as close, and another six as “not yet determined”. Counting of pre-poll, postal and absentee votes resumed on July 5.
At least 11 of 150 lower house seats remain in doubt.
As it stands, both major parties could form a minority government, in which they must secure support of independents to gain the 76 seat majority required to govern, members from both parties remain confident they can win the election.
Liberal Senator and Turnbull confidant Arthur Sinodinis said the Prime Minister would be entering dialogue with a number of crossbench MPs in an attempt to form a government. He said it was important for all parties to enter mature discussions in such a complicated situation.
“We on all sides have to work with parliament the Australian people have delivered,” Sinodinis said on July 4.
All 150 seats in Australia’s lower house, the House of Representatives, were being contested at this election, as were all 76 seats in the upper house, the Senate.
Nearly a quarter of Australians voted for a lower house candidate from outside the major parties. Results for the Senate vote are expected to take several weeks.
It is the first time in decades that all the seats in both houses have been contested in a single election. The double-dissolution election, as it is known, was called by Turnbull in an attempt to break a deadlock over industrial relations legislation. (IANS)