“That the two-party preferred total displayed on the AEC’s website is meaningless can be seen if you tally the members elected in these 142 electorates. You get Coalition 72, Labor 70. Missing are four Independents, a Green, a WA National and two Labor MPs.”
He says the reality of forming a government depends ultimately on the numbers in the House.
“The first preference or 2-party preferred vote might provide a talking point but both are constitutionally irrelevant to the formation of government.”
Independent MP Tony Windsor says the two-party preferred vote is not the key factor for him as he decides how to use the balance of power.
He and the two other incumbents, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott, still have “two or three days” of information gathering, he says. They will also meet with senior public servants, heads of departments and lobby groups.
“The main thing I’ll be looking for is in relation to stability of governance for the next three years, and that’s going to be fairly difficult to find with very tight numbers. That’s the main objective in this,” Mr Windsor said.
Labor and the Coalition are trying to convince the independents that they will be able to offer stable government.
Labor frontbencher Craig Emerson says his party can give that guarantee because its rules prevent MPs from crossing the floor, while Liberals are free to dissent.
Dr Emerson says Mr Abbott would not have the numbers in his own party to keep his promise to reopen the offshore processing centre at Nauru.
Meanwhile Hobart-based independent MP Andrew Wilkie says the two-party vote count is not relevant to him.
The AEC says the final vote totals are not expected until Friday.
Ms Gillard will be fronting the National Press Club in Canberra today to present her case for leading the nation.