Independent MP for Kennedy, Bob Katter, has announced he will side with the Coalition to form a minority government, but has continued to affirm his belief that the National Broadband Network (NBN) is the stronger of the two broadband plans.
His decision means the Labor and Liberal parties are tied at 74 seats each in the House of Representatives, and neither yet have the right to form government. The two other independent MPs involved in negotiations, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, are yet to announce which party they will side with, although political analysts have predicted they will announce support for the Labor government at about 3pm this afternoon. If so, Labor will have the majority in Parliament and be able to form government, resulting in the survival of the NBN.
Although Katter has made his decision, he tentatively said the NBN was a better option of the two broadband policies presented throughout the election campaign, but said the two weren’t far apart.
“I think there was a better broadband deal from the ALP but it was very flaky and I’m not an expert in that field,” he told media at a press conference announcing his decision.
Katter praised the NBN in ABC’s Q&A program last night, saying it was great movement for infrastructure in Australia.
“I have watched for 20 years the corruption of government in the sense that all they spend money on is buying votes. There is no infrastructure, there is no development, there is nothing,” he said.
“Now, you know, I have to pay a very great tribute to the Rudd Government, because for the first time in 20 years I saw a government - the broadband roll out, the national energy grid roll out, there's no votes in either of those things for them.
“They are a good thing for this country, a great thing for this country, and they undertook both those things knowing that there were no votes in it for them.”
The NBN and broadband in general, however, was notably missing from Katter's list of 20 priorities, which he released last week for negotiation with party leaders, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott
The fate of the NBN and the future of broadband rollouts lies in the announcements of the independent members, as Abbott has clearly stated he would scrap the network and implement a $6.25 billion alternative.