Julia Gillard Back at Work as Australia's Prime Minister


by NTDTelevision

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First up, Australia was finally able to determine its prime minster--but some think her power is too fragile to last. The new PM Julia Gillard has just 76 seats to the opposition's 74.

Julia Gillard returned to work as the prime minister of Australia on Wednesday. She secured the support of two independent MPs which gave her enough numbers in parliament to form a minority government.

Gillard secured a wafer thin parliamentary majority on Tuesday, ending a political impasse. But there are concerns about the fragility of her government and how long she could cling to power.

Experts say Gillard will be able to retain the rural independents' support through issues such as water rights. So she may survive through a full term of three years in power.

[Dr. Mark Rolfe, University of New South Wales]:
"If the Gillard government can get through the next 12 months, particularly through the difficulties of the water entitlements report that's coming through from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority – and that's going to create problems – if it can get through that, it should have a good chance of surviving the three years."

Gillard's plans to put a price on carbon emissions are also firmly back on the agenda, given her support from the Greens, who will hold the balance of power in the upper house from mid-2011.

[Dr. Mark Rolfe, University of New South Wales]:
"The ALP hasn't shown sufficient spine about imposing the carbon tax – it delayed it during the last government. It will be interesting to see whether it can rise to the occasion provided by the rural independents and the Green Party."

With only 76 seats in Gillard’s minority government, a single lawmaker in the 150-seat lower house changing sides could bring legislative defeat for her government or, worse, the loss of a no-confidence motion. The government could also fall if it loses one by-election over the next three years.

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