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Morrison set for majority government

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison appears set to have the 76 seats he needs to govern in majority, but could be in line to score an extra two.

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The Australian Electoral Commission is continuing to count postal voters in Chisholm, but the Liberal candidate Gladys Liu is in line to win the seat.

She now holds 50.7 per cent of the vote, ahead of Labor’s Jennifer Yang.

There are now only two close seats listed on the AEC website, but the coalition is ahead in both.

The Liberals’ Sarah Richards is ahead of Labor MP Susan Templeman in Macquarie, with the AEC website showing only a couple of hundred voters between them.

In Bass, the Liberals’ Bridget Archer sits on 50.4 per cent of the two-party vote, ahead of incumbent Labor MP Ross Hart.

If the current count trends continue, the Liberal-National coalition will have 78 seats, with Labor on 67 and six crossbenchers.

In the previous parliament, the coalition had 74 seats, Labor had 69, there were four independents and the Greens, Centre Alliance and Katter’s Australian Party had one each.

Along with counting postal votes for all 151 seats in the House of Representatives, the AEC on Tuesday began its Central Senate Scrutiny process.

Under a process, a computer is used to register the 100-million plus preferences marked on Senate ballot papers, which are later verified by a human operator.

The coalition’s Senate numbers could rise from 31 to 34 out of 76 seats.

The government will need to rely on either Labor, nine Greens senators or five out of six conservative crossbenchers to get its legislation through parliament.

The election writ must be returned by June 28.

Meanwhile, Morrison will gather some of  his ministers in Sydney today, while Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to catch up with Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe.

Dr Lowe confirmed on Tuesday the central bank’s board will consider cutting the official interest rate when it meets in a fortnight, to reduce unemployment and boost inflation.

“A lower cash rate would support employment growth and bring forward the time when inflation is consistent with the target,” Dr Lowe said in a speech to the Economic Society of Australia.

Frydenberg, after meeting with treasury officials, stressed the economy is facing headwinds but its fundamentals are sound.

“We will take all the action that is needed to ensure the Australian economy remains strong,” he said.

The treasurer is also expected to meet with officials at the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, a day after the regulator revealed it was considering easing lending criteria for banks.

APRA has proposed dumping a guideline that customers should be able to pay back their loan if the interest rate was hiked to at least 7.0 per cent, leaving it up to lenders to decide their own floor rate.

The economic focus comes as it remains unclear exactly when Australians will get the extra relief the coalition has promised them.

Morrison has made legislating the tax cuts its top priority, but Parliament can’t sit until after the writs are returned.

In a helpful twist for the government, the Australian Tax Office says it can retrospectively amend tax assessments to provide cuts if the laws pass after June.

The agency could also make administrative changes to provide tax cuts, if the opposition backs them.

Labor backs the coalition’s planned doubling of a tax offset for low and middle income earners.

But it has taken issue with the later stages of the coalition’s tax plan, which will flatten the tax rate to 30 per cent for everyone earning between $45,000 and $200,000.

“I don’t think tax cuts for low and middle income Australians should be held to ransom by the rest of the government’s agenda,” Labor’s Andrew Leigh told ABC Radio National.

-AAP

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