Australian politics is slowly approaching resolution, like a train inching through a long and windy tunnel with a light called government dimly lit at the end of it.
While the total two-party preferred vote rises and falls like a yo-yo, slimly favouring one side then slimly favouring the other, the parties are neck and neck at 72 seats a piece – 73 if you factor in Adam Bandt (The Greens) for Labor and Tony Crook (West Australian Nationals) for the Coalition.
The remaining independents – particularly the three amigos Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Bob Katter – have made some noise about reaching a decision by either this Friday or the beginning of next week. Whatever decision they come to, they can be assured it will please approximately as many people as it upsets.
What observations are the commentariat making, and how is the press preparing for the day of reckoning? Here’s what the pundits are saying.
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Patricia Karvelas: PM backs independent speaker
As Labor or the Coalition are likely to get only 76 seats at best, and from that number supply a Speaker, the house could be tied at 75 MPs each once the independents make their decisions.
Matthew Franklin: PM Julia Gillard rejects Bob Katter cal for tariffs
Julia Gillard has drawn her first line in the sand on policy concessions to remain in office, flatly rejecting raising tariff barriers to curry favour with protectionist independent MP Bob Katter.
Sydney Morning Herald
Phillp Coorey and Andrew Darby: Rural independents’ decision is likely by Friday
The three rural independents have signalled they will give their decision by as early as Friday about who will govern Australia. The fourth independent, Andrew Wilkie, has shelved his promise of a quick decision after rejecting a confidential offer from Labor.
The independents appear unmoved by the raging arguments about the primary vote (which Abbott uses to claim the upper hand) or the two-party preferred vote (by virtue of which each side has claimed advantage, depending on who was ahead at the time).
The Daily Telegraph
Malcolm Farr: Independent delays wearing thin
You know over-familiarity has set in when someone as exotic as Bob Katter, the man in the cowboy hat who often bursts into laughter at jokes no one else can hear, starts to bore. That’s happening now, meaning public patience is diminishing.
Andrew Darby, Michelle Grattan and Tim Colebatch: Key MP shuns offer from Labor
Julia Gillard has failed in an initial bid to win the backing of key Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie, as negotiations intensify over who will form the next Australian government.
Annabel Crabb: Gillard’s Parliament renovation a surprise-reveal job
After 23 days as a prime minister plus 33 days of the oddest election campaign ever plus 10 days of the madness that has followed it, Julia Gillard still looks as if nothing is out of the ordinary.