Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott on Friday entered into a “general agreement” to end the political controversy in the run-up to the formation of a government on the basis of the August 21 general election.
With the final official results of the election yet to be announced, both leaders are vying for the support of three Independents in what is expected to be a hung Parliament. The Independents have sought briefings about the Treasury's estimates of the likely public expenditure on the implementation of campaign pledges by Ms. Gillard's Australian Labour Party and by Mr. Abbott's Liberal-National Coalition respectively.
While Ms. Gillard quickly agreed to consider the demand, Mr. Abbott initially offered only to let them have access to the Coalition's own estimates as prepared by an independent consultant-firm. He also expressed reservations about subjecting its pledges to a costing exercise by the Treasury in a surcharged political atmosphere.
On an altogether different front, Governor-General Quentin Bryce received legal counsel on Friday to the effect that “there is no constitutional or other legal impediment” to her “proper discharge of her functions of office” in the present political circumstances. Ms. Bryce had sought Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler's opinion on the “concerns” about the delicacy of her constitutional position. The issue is related to the fact that her daughter is married to a prominent Labour politician.