News24

Australia faces instability

2010-08-22 09:06

Sydney - Australian media on Sunday warned the country was "divided" and facing instability after extraordinary national elections which produced the first hung parliament in 70 years.

"Deadlock" said the Sun-Herald's front page, picturing Prime Minister Julia Gillard, opposition leader Tony Abbott, and the handful of minority MPs who are now kingmakers after an "amazing night".

Newspapers condemned Gillard's Labour Party for dumping elected prime minister Kevin Rudd just two months before the polls, largely blaming the move for a swing to Abbot's opposition of some 5.5%.

"This devastating result for the Gillard government is a huge indictment of Labour, which has inexplicably squandered the opportunity the Australian people gave it in 2007," said Sun-Herald columnist Miranda Devine.

Blood-letting

"It raises big questions about the coup against Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard's decision to seize the leadership. It will lead to much blood-letting within the (party). There will be a backlash against the coup-makers."

The Sunday Telegraph said Australia was "A Nation Divided" on its front page after the "shock" election, while a commentary in The Australian website was titled: "Nation wakes to a hamstrung parliament."

"The 'dead-heat' election means Australia now faces a period of political instability and potentially weak government unprecedented since World War II," said the newspaper's editor-at-large Paul Kelly.

"The message from all sides is that Australia can emerge from this hung parliament with a stable government. Frankly, that is a heroic call," he added.

As counting continued, Labour was on course for a projected 72 seats and the opposition 73, both falling short of the 76 needed for an outright majority.