Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has ruled out doing any deals to form government. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has echoed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's pledge not to strike any deals with minor parties or independents to form government if neither party gains a majority in its own right.
In Cairns, Mr Rudd said he aimed to form a majority government without the need for post-election deals with crossbench MPs.
Tony Abbott holds a media conference in Brisbane on Wednesday morning. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Mr Rudd vowed not to strike an agreement similar to the one Julia Gillard negotiated in 2010 after neither main party won enough seats to govern in its own right.
''The Australian people will elect the parliament that they choose,'' Mr Rudd told reporters on Wednesday.
''What I'm being absolutely clear about is that we will not form a coalition with any minor parties or independents.
''We will not have any negotiated agreements like we’ve seen in the past and nor will we have any deals on the quiet.''
Since the start of the election campaign Mr Abbott has called on Mr Rudd to join him in ruling out leading a minority government.
But on Wednesday, Mr Rudd questioned Mr Abbott’s sincerity, pointing to independent MP Tony Windsor's claim that the Opposition Leader tried to win over crossbenchers in 2010 by joking ''the only thing I wouldn't do is sell my arse – but I'd have to give serious thought to it''.
Mr Rudd said: ''I think he said he offered a certain commodity to Mr Windsor begging him for his minority support to form coalition government after that election.''
While ruling out post-election deals, Mr Rudd did not comment on negotiations over the swapping of preferences on election day.
He refused to confirm rumours of a preference deal between Labor and Katter's Australian Party, saying he would leave such matters to the administrative wing of the party.
The move by the major parties has hampered Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt's chances of re-election in the seat of Melbourne and put a dampner on the Greens’ chances when challenging for Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's Sydney seat of Grayndler.
Earlier on Wednesday, at a press conference in Brisbane, Mr Abbott said the refusal to enter into a deal to form government was a ''captain's call'' and challenged Mr Rudd to be ''man enough to do the same''.
In a stinging attack on the Greens, Mr Abbott said the party had ''fringe economic policies'' – pointing to their desire to place a levy on banks, increase renewable energy and fix the mining tax.
When asked if he would also put the Palmer United Party and Katter’s Australian Party behind Labor, Mr Abbott said: ''There is a world of difference between the Greens and as far as I'm aware just about everyone else who is contesting this election . . . because everyone else in this campaign supports economic growth and supports a more prosperous economy.''
When asked if it was a mistake to preference the Greens in Mr Bandt’s seat in 2010, Mr Abbott said: ''That was then, this is now.''
''The last three years has been a litany of betrayals, of broken promises, of disappointed hopes, of an economy which has under-performed.''
Mr Abbott reaffirmed previous comments that he would be willing to go to a double dissolution if he was unable to repeal the carbon tax.
''If we are thwarted by a recalcitrant parliament, well there are options under the Constitution that we won’t hesitate to take,'' he said.
Mr Abbott continued the attack on Wednesday afternoon, saying Mr Rudd had failed to rule out pre-election preference deals with the Greens and was, therefore, ''prepared to sell the soul of the Labor party'' to further his own ambitions.
''I say to Mr Rudd, this is a test of your leadership. Are you man enough to say to the Greens, 'I'm going to put you last' [on preferences]?''
Greens hit back
The Greens were defiant in the face of the major parties' comments, with leader Christine Milne saying it showed what a good job the Melbourne MP had been doing, given he was only one MP in a house of 150.
''I think it's a stunning compliment to Adam Bandt, and I take it,'' she said.
In 2010 Mr Bandt won 38 per cent of the primary vote in Melbourne and was then elected with the help of Liberal preferences.
Senator Milne told Fairfax Media that the Greens had expected the Liberal Party not to preference Mr Bandt - and had built his campaign around that.
On the question of the economy, Senator Milne said that the Greens wanted to see economic growth decoupled from fossil fuel extraction.
''The green economy is where the real economic race is,'' she said.
''This is the Labor and Liberal parties ganging up against the Greens ... Labor and Liberal see each other as interchangable.''
The Greens will finalise their preference arrangements this weekend. Senator Milne says she just wants people to vote for the Greens first and then whoever they like after that.
The Coalition preference announcement will be welcome news for Labor’s candidate in Melbourne, Cath Bowtell.
Ms Bowtell has previously said she thought that it was unlikely any candidate would win in their own right.
Mr Bandt said on Wednesday that the Greens would try to win the seat of Melbourne on primary votes, without the need for supporting preferences.
''We're aiming this time to win the seat in our own right and I think that’s something the Greens have to do as we grow and become the next major party in this country,'' he told reporters on Wednesday.
''It speaks volumes that Tony Abbott would rather have a Labor backbencher in the seat of Melbourne than me.''
Mr Bandt said both Labor and the Coalition wanted to turn Parliament into a ''two-party closed shop'' and defended the work of the hung parliament over the past three years, saying the reasons for the appearance of instability were Mr Abbott's refusal to accept the legitimacy of the 2010 election result and Labor's ''massive internal turmoil''.
''Julia Gillard's own side never really gave her a fair go and spent the best part of two-and-a-half years trying to tear her down,'' Mr Bandt said.
Greens candidate in Grayndler, Hall Greenland, said that Liberal preference deal made the seat a lot tougher to win, but added he never really expected preferences from the Liberals.
''Certainly the Greens are not giving up hope that we are going to make a real showing and give Anthony and Labor and the Liberals a real shake in the inner city,'' Mr Greenland told Fairfax Media.
Mr Greenland has predicted he might get 30 per cent of the primary vote in Grayndler, which Mr Albanese holds on a margin of 20.6 per cent.
He hit back at Mr Abbott's call for stable government after the 2013 election - saying his position was ''essentially anti-democratic''.
''Well, you there is stable government and stable government. You can have a dictatorship . . . and have stable government. You got stable government from Hitler and Stalin. It's not stability that seems to me to be the hall mark of democracy, but the kinds of policies that government's peruse,'' Mr Greenland said.
The retiring independent MP for New England, Tony Windsor, said Mr Abbott's decision on preferences would make a difference in some seats.
But Mr Windsor told Sky News he felt the Greens would do reasonably well in the Senate because people saw Labor and the Coalition as ''one party with two different management teams''.
Meanwhile, Bob Katter has remained tight-lipped about who his party will preference at the upcoming Federal election, despite having met both Liberal and Labor powerbrokers in the past week.
Speaking at the Ekka in Brisbane on Wednesday morning, the leader of Katter’s Australia Party said he was yet to make a preference decision.
''This election will centre around a dozen or two dozen key seats and we are not likely to be making any decisions on those,'' he said.
''Also we have got to negotiate. The number one principle of our party is a member votes in accordance to his conscience.''
Asked if that meant each Katter's Australia Party candidate will decide their own preferences, Mr Katter shook his head.
''No, but they will have a say,'' he said.
'I'd hold hands with Bob'
Earlier, the high-profile Labor candidate for Forde in southeast Queensland, Peter Beattie, said he was unaware of preferences negotiations being finalised but they would play a role in his chosen seat.
''Of course they'll be relevant in some seats and no doubt they’ll be relevant in Forde because this is going to be the litmus test seat,'' said the former premier, who needs to secure a 1.6 per cent swing to win the seat from the LNP.
''If we don't win Forde we don’t win government so they will be relevant here.''
Mr Beattie also heaped praise on Bob Katter, saying he had known him for a long time and they had political differences but the maverick federal MP would ''stand up for his area''.
Mr Beattie even suggested he would be happy to ''hold hands'' with Mr Katter to deliver better results for Queensland.
''I don't see any difficulty, assuming that I get elected - touch wood, and that's up to the people of Forde - working with Katter,'' Mr Beattie said.
''One of the things you can always rely on with Katter, he shares with Kevin Rudd and I a passion for Queensland and that passion will ensure Queensland is given the recognition it needs in the national capital.
''Queensland needs to have a Prime Minister, Queensland needs to have strong voices in the Federal Parliament and I may disagree with Bob Katter but I'll hold hands with Bob Katter if it means a better deal for Queensland.''
With Marija Taflaga