As the dust settles after the voting frenzy of the weekend, many voters’ minds are turning to what happens next.
According to the AEC’s tally room, the Labor Party currently has 69 seats leading in the House of Representatives, where the Liberal/National Coalition has 64.
Either party needs 76 seats to form majority government, and the AEC reports that five seats are close, three of which are leaning towards the LNP and two to the ALP.
Of those seats, the currently Labor held seat of Chisholm has a significantly close margin of only 66 votes, and the Liberal held seat of Forde has a similarly close margin of 149.
Vote counting will resume tomorrow, with the majority of votes left to count are absent, interstate, postal and other declaration votes. The AEC said in a statement on the weekend 11 million votes were counted on Saturday and more than 1 million postal votes are still to be counted.
“On Monday, the AEC will continue the process of verifying more than one million postal votes already returned to the AEC so they can be admitted to the count beginning on Tuesday,” the AEC said.
Six seats are yet to be determined, including the Victorian seat of Higgins, where Greens candidate Jason Ball attracted a swing of nearly 10% against sitting Liberal member and Small Business Minister, Kelly O’Dwyer.
Independents are leading in six lower house seats, with the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) currently leading the count in two seats in South Australia. The Greens look set to claim one in Victoria.
The NXT is still hopeful it will pick up the undecided seat of Barker against Liberal Tony Pasin, who currently has a two candidate preferred percentage of 60.12% of the vote.
Two-party preferred favouring Labor
With vote counting still continuing, the AEC has calculated the two-party preferred figures for the House of Representatives at 49.78% to the LNP and 50.22% to the ALP.
This shows a swing of 3.71% to the Labor Party, which received 35% of the national first preference, though these numbers are not final.
In the Senate, counting of votes is still occurring, but it looks like the upper house will contain a diverse crossbench that the major parties will have to negotiate with.
Ex-media personality and Seven Network broadcaster Derryn Hinch has taken to Twitter to claim a crossbench seat, saying: “We’ve called it we are in”.
Controversial One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson is on track to pick up a Senate seat in Queensland, having claimed at least 10% of the senate votes for the state on Saturday night. One Nation is also eyeing off a potential second seat for Hanson’s running partner Malcolm Roberts, and another in New South Wales.
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Popular independent and previous Palmer United Party member Jacqui Lambie has also claimed a senate seat in Tasmania, receiving 8.6% of the vote.
The Nick Xenophon Team will also claim two seats on the Senate crossbench, with a third a possibility.
Small business reacts
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Australia, told SmartCompany the election aftermath is “like groundhog day but with different hogs”.
Strong says COSBOA members are “trying not to be negative”, but says many are “terrified” of a Labor Government.
“The reason we’re concerned is that this is about the economy, innovation, and productivity, and we haven’t seen Labor support that fully,” says Strong.
“We’ve seen good economic rationalism from the Coalition, although we are concerned that we could see the ‘laissez-faire’ Liberal attitude come back and take hold.”
Strong says Labor could have comfortably won the election if it chose to side with small businesses over the unions.
“If Labor had embraced the 10 million threshold for tax rate cuts, they would have picked up another 1.5 per cent votes,” says Strong.
As for support for small businesses among the independents, Strong has faith that both Bob Katter and Cathy McGowan will vote for SME owners’ rights.
“With a hung parliament, that would mean accountability and transparency, which is a benefit for all Australians,” Strong says.
“In my opinion, people are afraid of the future and of the unknown, and it is now beholden on governments to start being transparent and stop playing games.”
James Pearson, chief excecutive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement on Sunday the company tax cut for small businesses should be “legislated as soon as the next government returns to Parliament”.
“Uncertainty remains for owners of small and medium enterprises with a turnover of up to $10 million, and for larger businesses. This is disappointing,” said Pearson.
“We look to our government and our Parliament to show leadership and make it easier, not harder, for business to get on with the job.”
Vote counting resumes tomorrow, but final results may not be known until the end of the week.