QUEENSLAND independent Bob Katter is once again at the centre of Canberra power plays, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meeting with him to talk potential minority government deals today.
Mr Turnbull was expected to meet Mr Katter, who was re-elected in his seat of Kennedy again last week, as both the Coalition and Labor look to seal deals in the event the election couint comes in with a hung parliament.
While the Coalition is currently leading the election count, 73 seats to Labor's 68, a few thousand postal votes across about five remaining "too close to call" seats will be the decider.
Mr Katter has already begun work on a list of demands he would make of the major party leaders courting his vote.
No stranger to the power game in minority government, Mr Katter in 2010 refused to back Julia Gillard in forming minority government, effectively dealing himself out of the 43rd Parliament.
But in the longer run, it seems that move, also in line with his more conservative, vast Queensland electorate, has secured his political future.
Both the two other independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who backed the Gillard Government, retired at the 2013 election and failed in their bids to return to parliament at last weekend's election.
THE Coalition could yet scrape through with a narrow election majority, but the final result will hinge largely on postal votes in a handful of seats.
Late yesterday afternoon the Australian Electoral Commission had the Coalition on 69 against Labor's 68.
But ABC election analyst Antony Green had the government on 73 seats to Labor's 67. He said the Coalition could win as many as 76 - the number needed to form government.
However, a handful of seats were still within 1% of going either way - the Queensland seats of Capricornia, Forde, Herbert and Flynn; Cowan in Western Australia and Hindmarsh in South Australia.
Coalition pundits believed postal votes would go their way in Capricornia, Flynn and Herbert, where Labor led by fewer than 1000 votes in each.
It is expected a final result in the Lower House will be known by the end of the week, but the Senate count, particularly of preferences, will continue next week.
While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull kept a low profile, National Party president Larry Anthony told the ABC about the benefits of his party's "grassroots" campaign compared with the Liberals' centrally controlled national campaign.
"That is why we have been able to maintain our position, which has been remarkable," he said.
"Hopefully the government, the Coalition, will be able to form a government ... if we can, you will see a more assertive National Party."
Several conservative Liberals, including first-term Canning MP Andrew Hastie, went further, criticising Mr Turnbull's leadership and campaign strategy.
Mr Hastie told Fairfax "what we were campaigning on nationally just wasn't resonating with everyday Australians".
He said the more he was out in his electorate door-knocking, "the more of a disconnect I sensed between the voters and what we were campaigning on".
Conservative Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi labelled the outcome a "disaster" and set up a new group so "our voice is never taken for granted again".
He denied it would be a political party, but said it would build "a broad conservative movement".
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