Australian voters react to final election outcome

Julia Gillard (L) and Tony Abbott (R)
Image caption Ms Gillard's government has the backing of just one more MP than Tony Abbott's Liberal-led coalition

Julia Gillard will remain as Australia's prime minister after winning the backing of two key independent MPs.

Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott held the balance of power in parliament after fellow independent MP Bob Katter backed opposition leader Tony Abbott.

The dramatic outcome ended more than two weeks of political deadlock following inconclusive elections. It gives Ms Gillard's Labor Party a majority of one in the lower house over the Liberal-led coalition.

Here, Australian voters react to the final outcome and discuss the challenges ahead for the new government.

Brenda Hickson, Warburton, Victoria

After 17 days of edge-of-the-seat nail-biting negotiations and temper-tantrums, I can now breathe easily again.

We have finally got a continuation of a Labor government headed up by Julia Gillard.

The independents used the historic deadlock to broker great democratic changes in the way our Parliament will operate.

Then they decided to support the party with the most progressive policies on climate change, a national broadband network and a tax on the gigantic profits of mining companies.

With a knife-edge majority it will be difficult at times to push through legislation, but at least Julia Gillard can now get on with the job and there is a good chance she and her party will get their agenda through.

The only real danger for her is the chance of dissension within her own ranks, but I trust that Labor will now unify behind her.

Jemma Castle, Sydney

I was not surprised that it was Labor who formed the majority.

I was dreading the thought of going back to the polls because it would be such a waste of money and the public have already fulfilled their commitment to turn out and vote.

It feels good to have a government again, but whether it was Liberal or Labor had become of little importance to me.

I didn't feel like either ran a convincing campaign, and I don't find either of them very charismatic. I also feel disappointed that Australia's first female Prime Minister still hasn't really been properly elected in her own right.

Some people seem worried that nothing will be be passed with such a slim margin in the House of Representatives.

But I think it will be good for our country to actually have to debate out the issues.

I feel a bit excited that the government won't feel very stable, because they will really have to prove themselves. I am hoping that it brings us into a new era of more honest, real and accountable politicians who don't feel like they always have to tow the party line.

I think the government needs to look at injecting energy and services into rural areas and it will be hard to ignore with Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott in government.

I also think the pre-commitment cards in gambling machines that Andrew Wilkie bargained for should be at the front of Julia Gillard's mind.

Daniel Forde, Melbourne

I think that this fragile coalition of Labor-Greens-Independents will not last.

Julia Gillard only holds a one-seat majority. If anyone resigns, we are back to the polls.

Also, I'm sure the independents who backed Gillard will face repercussions from their conservative electorates once they realise they have delivered them into one of the most left-winged governments in Australia's history.

It's also worth noting that Gillard's party won fewer seats, a lower primary vote and a lower two-party preferred vote, but the outcome has led her to become prime minister of this country.

I think the government should prioritise the repaying of our deficit, but I fear it will probably be all about wasting money on symbolic white elephant projects.

History will show that the will of the people was ignored when three independents held the nation hostage and delivered into her hands a government that the nation had rejected for its abject incompetence.

Tony Walsh, Cairns

My main reaction to the outcome is one of relief, as I wanted to see the Labor government returned.

Whether the new government can survive a full three-year term is another question, but I certainly hope so.

It is uncharted waters for Australia with a minority government, but with goodwill from all sides I believe it can do well.

Now that the government is in place the main priorities, I believe, should be maintaining the Australian economy, which has performed really well, and focus on maintaining low unemployment and low inflation.

It is now also possibly time for a rethink on Australia's commitment to the Afghanistan campaign and a chance to build on our influence within our immediate region.

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