Independent MP submits demand list to Gillard, AbbottBy IANS
Friday, September 3, 2010
SYDNEY - Independent MP from Queensland Bob Katter Friday said he has sent a list of 20 conditions to Australian prime ministerial hopefuls Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, saying “I’m still in a very powerful position here”.
Incumbent Prime Minister Julia Gillard got a boost to her hopes of returning as the country’s leader after Independent MP from Tasmania Andrew Wilkie decided Thursday to support the Labor Party.
Wilkie’s support added up to 74 seats for a Labor majority, which earlier signed an agreement with the Australian Greens, meaning the party needs the backing of two of the three Independent MPs to reach a 76-seat majority in the House of Representatives.
Katter’s list of demands includes scrapping of mining tax, creation of a National Energy Grid, addressing food security, removal of tax on Australian-produced bio-fuels, and an increased access to traditional pursuits of fishing, camping and outdoor sports among others.
Katter said any indication from the two groups that it would “accommodate” the items on his list would “assist in the current decision-making process”, The Australian reported.
The list was not a series of “conditions” but a guideline to priorities for the new parliamentary term. “I’m not naive enough to think I will get all of this,” he said.
“I’ve sat down with Julia and Tony, and Julia is indicating that these things are not as hard and fast and set in concrete, you know, and she wasn’t making any concession on these items but she was just saying there was a lot of room for negotiation and I think there is,” he said.
“If Julia or Tony thinks I’m going to keep sitting out there even if my two colleagues were going to go the other way, you know, I’m still in a very powerful position here. You try running a government with one vote up your sleeve.”
“So what I’m saying is that I’m going to be still out there and very, very potent indeed,” he said.
Katter said former prime minister Kevin Rudd also tried to persuade him to support Labor, according to AAP news agency.
Katter Friday refused to rule out supporting Labor, and praised Rudd’s leadership, saying he had never indulged in any vote-buying activity.
He also said he was anxious to be in concert with fellow independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott with his decision.