Alan Hunter.
Alan Hunter.

'Dummy-spitters' choose Gillard

“THESE three are dummy-spitters. What's going to prevent them from spitting the dummy again?”

That was the reaction yesterday of a “very disappointed” National Party candidate for Richmond Alan Hunter to the decisions of the three independent members of Federal Parliament as to who should form government.

Minutes after independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott announced they would give power to Labor, following an earlier decision by North Queenslander Bob Katter to side with the Coalition, Mr Hunter lashed out at all three.

Mr Hunter, who came second behind Labor's Justine Elliot in the election for the local seat of Richmond just over two weeks ago, said he was “a bit shocked” partly because of the conservative background of each independent.

He was especially critical of Mr Oakeshott, who holds the mid-north coast of Lyne centred on Port Macquarie.

“Oakeshott coming from a conservative-based seat, it beggars belief,” he said.

“Clearly I'm disappointed for the Coalition. We gave it our best shot.”

Mr Hunter said voters should in future think carefully about voting for any independent candidates, warning that people who did so would remain uncertain “who they are voting for”.

“It's really like casting your vote to the breeze,” he said.

“You don't know what they are going to stand for on what day.

“Politics is a numbers game. There isn't room for individuals.

“I will be surprised if this turns out to be a good decision.”

Mr Hunter warned voters could soon find themselves back at the polls given the slim one-vote majority for Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government.

“We are in unchartered waters,” he said. “It won't take much more than a by-election somewhere to throw it out of kilter.”

Labor MP Justine Eliot, who is yet to find out whether she will continue to hold her position as Ageing Minister in a new Gillard government, released a brief statement.

“I welcome the support of Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott for the return of the Gillard Labor Government and look forward to continuing to deliver positive outcomes for regional areas like our own,” Mrs Elliot said.

“I am honoured to have been re-elected as the Federal Member for Richmond and I thank the people of the North Coast for the privilege to represent them again in Federal Parliament.”

Liberal candidate for Richmond Joan van Lieshout could not be reached.

Greens candidate Joe Ebono said he was “just glad we don't have to go back to the polls”.

But he was noncommittal on whether the Gillard government would last for three years, saying: “This is going to be a challenging period. There are going to be all sorts of economic and environmental challenges that are going to make times tough.”

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