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Helen Haines has likely made history as the first independent to win a seat following on from another independent. She warded off a coalition strike to regain the seat of Indi in north-east Victoria after Cathy McGowan’s retirement.
It’s unclear whether the Morrison government will require the support of independent MPs to govern. Haines said independents had to work with the government of the day and her support would be based on the issues that she campaigned on. She said she was hopeful of a respectful engagement with the government on the issue of climate change.
Haines said the national energy guarantee is not perfect but might be a good starting point. “I think what we need is constructive conversations,” she told ABC TV.
She flagged there could be some collaboration with other independents on climate policy but said they wouldn’t operate as a bloc. A rural health strategy and raising the Newstart unemployment benefits are also key issues for Haines.
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One of the quirks of the election night count is that the two-party preferred count reflects the AEC’s best guess of who the top two candidates will be, leaving the outside chance that a candidate can leapfrog from third place into second, and then on to victory.
Although the Greens managed this trick twice in the state Victorian seat of Prahran, the Melbourne MP, Adam Bandt, will be the only Greens MP in the lower house because it is now impossible for the Greens’ Jason Ball to leapfrog Labor in Higgins.
On the current count Ball is about 3% behind Labor’s Fiona McLeod on primary votes, a gap that can’t be bridged by Animal Justice Party and Sustainable Australia preferences.
Labor thinks it’s an extreme outside chance to take the seat off the Liberal Katie Allen but it would require a herculean feat of prepoll breaking Labor’s way. Allen is currently on 53.5% 2PP.