SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia's centre-left Labor party has secured enough seats in the Lower House of Parliament to govern in its own right, the country’s new prime minister said on Tuesday (May 31), letting it form government without the support of independents or minor parties.
Although the former conservative coalition government conceded almost immediately after the May 21 vote, close results in some seats and high levels of postal voting have kept the final tally uncertain 10 days after the election.
Labor now believes it has won 76 of the 151 Lower House seats, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a televised speech before the first meeting of newly elected members, adding that its final tally may rise to 77 as counting continues in two close seats.
"Australians have placed their trust in us and that brings with it an enormous responsibility, an enormous responsibility to deliver on the commitments that we made, the commitments for which we have a clear mandate as part of a majority Labor government," Mr Albanese said.
Securing a majority lowers the risk for Labor that it would have to negotiate with a group of 16 crossbenchers – mostly climate-focused independents and Greens – to pass legislation, although it will still to win additional support for legislation in Parliament’s Upper House.
Mr Albanese named an interim ministry less than two days after the election so he could attend a previously scheduled meeting of the Quad security grouping in Japan, which also includes the United States, India and Japan.
At Tuesday’s party meeting, he planned to discuss the make-up of a full cabinet and expected to make the appointments public within the next day, media reported.
A day earlier, the two parties which make up the conservative coalition, the Liberal Party of Australia and the rural-focused National Party of Australia, elected new leaders after entering opposition for the first time in nine years.
The Liberals selected former police officer and former home affairs minister Peter Dutton to replace former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who stepped down after the election defeat, while the Nationals chose Mr David Littleproud to replace Mr Barnaby Joyce.
Both leaders are from the state of Queensland where the coalition lost three seats to the Greens. The former government was on track to win 57 Lower House seats, according to news outlets.