Three days since the election and the job of PM is still up for grabs.

Independents Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have become household names overnight as it becomes obvious that we will have a hung parliament and they will decide the government. Right now both parties seem likely to win 73 seats a piece, but Denison is still in doubt in Tasmania, as is Hasluck in WA.

The Daily Telegraph indicates that Gillard may have the support of the two NSW Independents, which along with Greens MP Adam Bandt in Melbourne, would be enough to get her over the line. Independent MP Rob Oakeshott may even be offered a ministry.

“I believe the question in these negotiations is: Which party is best placed to provide stable government?” said Gillard at a press conference in Canberra yesterday. “That requires of course being able to deal with the Parliament, in the House of Representatives and the Senate. It requires having a positive plan for the nation’s future. It requires having properly costed policies.”

How will this play out? Can a hung parliament work? Who is best placed to manage a minority government? Here’s a snapshot of what the commentariat are saying.

The Australian

Dennis Shanahan: Dead heat makes a singular choice at least twice as hard

“…the argument over which vote counts is likely to be less important than which side can hold together and govern and make good on their promises. The independents, keen not to be seen selling their support, will have to choose which side they believe not only has the right to govern but can also govern and give Australia back political stability and certainty.

Niki Savva: Values overboard as ship of state takes on water

Get set for more spending, higher taxes and more regulation with one UnReal Prime Minister and two de facto prime ministers, Bob Brown and Tony Windsor and the prospect of an early double dissolution election.

Arrivederci Australia. Ciao to Italy in the Pacific.

Samantha Maiden: Party lobbying firms regroup

The hung parliament is expected to be a bonanza for lobby groups.

Jennifer Hewett: Both parties face independents suspicious of reform

Even Kevin Rudd at his most ambitious would never have realised the NBN could offer such a direct pay-off for Labor holding power.And Wayne Swan clearly didn’t appreciate that the depth of West Australian and Queensland antagonism to the mining tax might determine whether he could stay on as Labor Treasurer for another three years.

Peter van Onselen: Lib anger at failure to use funds effectively

Questions are being asked inside the Coalition about poor decision-making that might have cost it the chance to win the election outright. Late candidate preselections, poor funding for key seats and large-scale campaigns in safe conservative electorates between Nationals and Liberals made Tony Abbott’s job of seizing the prime ministership much more difficult than it needed to be.

Samantha Maiden: It ain’t over till the High Court sings

Face it — this election isn’t over until someone has taken it to the High Court.

The Age

Michelle Grattan: Infighting sours Gillard’s pitch

But just as the PM was trying to emphasise Labor’s stability, a former New South Wales Labor premier undercut her message by lashing out at key Right faction figures behind the leadership coup that installed her.

Tim Colebatch: Political values redefined

It’s 70 years since Australians have voted in a hung parliament. It’s unusual for us, but normal for most Western democracies. Their experience shows it doesn’t necessarily lead to weak government. If there is discipline and realism among the partners, it can lead to reforms with a wider base of support than any one party can muster.

Sydney Morning Herald

Phillip Coorey: Disparities in voters’ priorities are even more stark now

Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter are from the country yet their concerns are universal. They have mentioned water, communications and broadband, health and dental care and climate change. None has mentioned boats, debt, immigrants, or great big new taxes.

Julia Baird: Gillard wins victory of sorts by playing down female factor

Appropriately, and triumphantly, at the moment it mattered most, Julia Gillard’s gender was irrelevant… as votes were counted, graphs stacked, electorates toppled, and kegs nervously drained, the fact that this election was being contested by a woman — our first female prime minister, no less — was not really of any great concern.


Dennis Atkins: Parties put spin on result as basis for negotiation with independents

The hardest thing for a governing political party to do after a drubbing at the end of a brutal and bruising five-week election campaign which was neither won nor lost is to come out and present a voice of stability and continuity.

Daily Telegraph

Malcolm Farr: Policy daring-do doesn’t rate

Liberal leader Tony Abbott is better equipped by experience to manage a minority government, simply because he has spent his political life in a coalition. Soon after taking the Opposition leadership Mr Abbott calmed down Liberal-Nationals tensions. Significantly, he stopped the Nationals Barnaby Joyce attacking Liberal policy and coaxed him into the shadow ministry.

Julia Gillard doesn’t have the same background. Bargaining among the Labor factions isn’t the same.