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Labor still hanging on edge of majority government


Labor is close to securing the parliamentary seats it needs for majority government but some contests from the weekend election are still too close to call.

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Official figures from the Australian Electoral Commission on Tuesday morning have Labor winning 75 seats, one short of a majority in the House of Representatives.

The Liberal-Nationals coalition has 59 seats.

There are six seats where the margin between leading contenders is fewer than 1000 votes: Deakin (Victoria), Ryan (Queensland), Gilmore (NSW), Grey, Sturt (South Australia) and Lyons (Tasmania).

In the Melbourne suburban seat of Deakin, the former Liberal minister Michael Sukkar is leading by just 55 votes.

The seats of Richmond (NSW), Macnamara (Victoria) and Brisbane (Qld) where the Greens are in the race are also in play, with the AEC yet to publish two-candidate preferred figures.

Independent candidates are leading in 10 seats, the Greens in two, with the Centre Alliance and Katter’s Australian Party retaining their seats.

Coalition MPs are trailing in 18 seats: Swan, Pearce, Tangney, Hasluck, Curtin (WA), Chisholm, Higgins, Kooyong, Goldstein (Vic), Wentworth, Reid, North Sydney, Robertson, Mackellar, Bennelong (NSW), Boothby and Grey (SA).

Labor is behind in two NSW seats – Fowler and Gilmore – it held before Saturday’s election.

The make-up of the Senate could take weeks to determine, but it appears one casualty will be Liberals minister Zed Seselja, who is facing defeat at the hands of independent David Pocock, a former Australian rugby union international.

New Treasurer Jim Chalmers says he intends to deliver an economic update as soon as federal parliament resumes, prior to handing down his first budget in October.

Chalmers wants to provide a detailed economic update when parliament returns in June or July to encourage a national conversation about the substantial economic challenges facing the new government.

“We will only solve these challenges if we work together,” he said on Tuesday.

Briefings by Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy and other officials since the election had confirmed some of those challenges. .

“We do have a trillion dollars of debt in the budget, there is substantial weakness across the board in the budget because there has been a lot of wasteful spending over the last decade or so,” he said.

Labor has flagged it will cut $11.5 billion from the budget bottom line by ending the waste and the rorts of the outgoing Morrison government and other initiatives, such as making multinationals pay their fair share of tax.

“If there are more opportunities that come from our audit of rorts and waste in the budget, obviously we will pursue those as well,” Chalmers said.

“No government can click their fingers and make all of a sudden a trillion dollars of debt disappear.”

But he  sees no reason why Australia should lose its triple-A credit rating, noting that it was a previous Labor government that achieved the top-tier rating from all three major global credit rating agencies.

“There is absolutely nothing about our plans which should, or in my view will, change the way the rating agencies look at our budget and economy,” he said.


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