Turmoil goes onafter Australia'sdead-heat poll

AUSTRALIA remains in political deadlock after the country's Liberal Party leader rejected key demands from three independents who are likely to decide which party forms the next government in a hung legislature.

Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, who heads the conservative opposition coalition, said yesterday that he would not allow the Treasury Department to analyse what impact his election promises would have on the national budget.

Mr Abbott said that he had “no confidence in integrity of process” within the Treasury.

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But he said the independents were welcome to see calculations by a private accounting firm commissioned by his party.

“We will be completely frank and candid with the independents,” said Mr Abbott, adding that he had nothing to hide.

Independents Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott are likely to decide whether Mr Abbott’s coalition or caretaker prime minister Julia Gillard’s Labour Party forms a government after weekend elections gave each of the main parties exactly the same number of seats.

The independents opened negotiations with the two leaders yesterday and presented each with wish lists. Their top demand is for details of how much the competing election promises would cost the nation.

Mr Katter said Mr Abbott’s “intransigence” in not allowing Treasury to audit opposition promises was a blunder.

“If he looks so bad and has something to hide, it makes it much more difficult for us to give him the gong to become prime minister,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Windsor said Mr Abbott’s stance was not a “deal breaker”, but damaged his argument of offering more stable leadership.

The independents came under pressure from their own constituents to choose Mr Abbott with a poll showed 55 per cent of voters in their three rural districts wanted the conservatives.

Another 37 per cent opposed such a government and eight per cent were undecided.

Ms Gillard said she was inclined to release what cost projections of Labour promises were available, and was seeking advice from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

But as caretaker prime minister, she would also need Mr Abbott’s authority to release such budget information.

But Mr Abbott said he would not agree to alter the rules that caretaker governments must follow to allow confidential budget information to be released.