3 Jul 2016

Aus election outcome important for NZ - Key

2:01 pm on 3 July 2016

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will be keeping a close eye on what happens across the Tasman in the next few days, with the results of yesterday's federal election still unclear.

Vote counting has stopped in Australia, with the governing Liberal-National coalition and the opposition Labor Party tied at 67 seats each.

76 seats are needed to govern outright.

"Obviously a very tight election in Australia and we're not really in a position to fully understand ultimately what that outcome is," Mr Key said.

He said even if the new Australian government was elected on a very slim margin, it would still have a mandate to govern.

"We have won every election as it's turned out on a minority basis, our margins are always tight - it hasn't ultimately stopped us working with our partners to get out there and deliver a strong performance for New Zealanders and for our country.

"And that's just something Australia's going to have to work through because they can sit around all they like and say the mandate or the majority is not as big as they might like but ultimately you've got a job to do for the next three years."

Mr Key said no matter what the result, the outcome of the election was important for this country.

"Obviously our hope is that the government is in a position to drive their economy and deliver the results that Australians will want because Australia is our biggest market for goods and services on a combined basis; it matters to New Zealanders so we want Australia to perform strongly."

Asked if he thought Mr Turnbull would survive losing the election, Mr Key responded: "Ah well let's wait and see, I certainly hope so, I would count him as a friend and think he's a good prime minister, but that's for the Australian Liberal Party."

Shorten 'buzzing' as results came in

RNZ News political reporter Demelza Leslie was in Melbourne at the Labor Party headquarters last night and said while the mood early on was subdued, it became more buoyant as votes began trickling in.

Labor had come back from a terrible result in 2010 she said, then had a "horrible" term in government, followed by a dive at the polls in 2013, but had now shaken the Coalition's first term government.

But it was hanging in the balance in terms of whether the Coalition or Labor could govern with an outright majority.

Much depended on who could shore up the support of the minor parties, which might yet end up holding the balance of power.

The remaining votes will not be counted until Tuesday, and after that the main parties would have to work out who has the clearer mandate, meaning the final outcome may not be known for more than a week.

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