Coalition works out bargaining position

9:08 pm on 25 August 2010

The opposition Coalition in Australia is to lay out some measures it would be prepared to take to gain the support of independent MPs and form a government.

On Wednesday, Caretaker Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott were to meet the three confirmed independent MPs for introductory talks.

Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter and Tony Windsor met in Canberra on Tuesday night, for the first time since the election.

The ABC reports that a briefing paper it has obtained sets out the matters on which Mr Abbott is prepared to negotiate.

The Coalition is to say later this week that it would expose more of its ministers - including Mr Abbott - to the rough-and-tumble of the budget estimates process.

The Coalition will also signal that it is prepared to retain Labor MP Harry Jenkins as Speaker, or support an independent MP for the role.

The ABC also reports the Coalition will offer to ensure that private members' bills are debated and brought to a vote, in contrast to the present convention by which they commonly linger unheeded for long periods.

Saturday's election has left Australia with a hung parliament, and vote counting continues.

As at 8am on Wednesday, the ABC reported that with almost 80% of the votes counted, Labor and the Coalition each had 71 seats, the Greens one, others had four seats and three electorates were too close to call.