South Australia’s election outcome remains uncertain as the major parties continue to lobby two key independents amid the likelihood of a hung parliament.
It could be the end of the week before the count is finalised with the Australian Electoral Commission only beginning to tally up to 260,000 pre-poll, postal and absentee votes on Tuesday.
Independents Bob Such and Geoff Brock have again vowed to take time to decide who they will support, either individually or collectively, if neither of the major parties can secure a majority.
With 69 per cent of the vote counted, Labor is on course to win 23 seats in the 47-seat lower house, the Liberals 22, with the independents to hold two.
But there remains 10 seats where the margin is less than 1000 votes, suggesting the situation could change quite dramatically.
The closest is the Labor held electorate of Mitchell where the Liberals are ahead by just 233 votes while in Employment Minister Grace Portolesi’s seat of Hartley, the Liberal lead is just 410.
Other close seats include Adelaide, which the Liberals lead by 509, and Colton where Labor is ahead by 571.
Dr Such and Mr Brock met together with Premier Jay Weatherill on Sunday and then individually with Liberal leader Steven Marshall on Monday and plan to wait until the result of the election is clearer before making a decision on who to back.
They also expect to have further meetings with the party leaders, ministers and opposition frontbenchers.
Mr Brock has maintained his decision will be based on what is best for all of South Australia, particularly regional districts, arguing that they have been ignored by both parties in recent years.
Dr Such says he’ll take into account a range of issues including where voters in his electorate gave their second preference and what the attitude of the parties will be to public sector job cuts, with his district having a high proportion of government workers.
The closeness of the SA poll also continues to raise questions over the state’s electoral system, particularly following the Liberals failure to gain the 24 seats needed to govern in their own right despite the party winning close to 53 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who missed out in negotiations to form a minority government after the 2010 federal election, said the independents should take heed of the Liberals’ two-party vote.
But Mr Brock said the way to win an election was to win the majority of seats and he would not take the two-party vote into account.
“The democratic system in Australia is the number of seats you win,” he said.
Dr Such said he was in parliament when the most recent changes were made to SA’s voting system and they were agreed on by both the Labor and Liberal parties.
“You’re never going to have a perfect system, it’s just impossible,” he said.