Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has rejected a quick return to the polls and welcomed a ‘new political landscape’ after inconclusive national elections.
Ms Gillard was making her first major speech since the election, which produced Australia's only hung parliament since 1940 and left the major parties scrambling for the support of independents.
‘Some say this situation is all too difficult and we should just return to the polls. I disagree,’ Ms Gillard told the National Press Club in Canberra.
‘The Australian people have voted for this parliament and our job is to make it work.’
As final vote-counting continues, neither Ms Gillard's left-leaning Labor party nor the conservative Liberal/National coalition are able to reach the 76 seats needed for a majority, with both relying on the support of cross-benchers.
The lone Greens MP is expected to side with Labor, while one of the independents will announce his decision today or tomorrow and the main bloc of another three unallied members will start formal negotiations later this week.
The political limbo follows a dramatic period in Australian politics after Ms Gillard staged a party revolt against elected prime minister Kevin Rudd in June to become the country's first woman leader.
Ms Gillard echoed the three-man ‘kingmakers’ bloc, whose support will be crucial, when she said the elections were a ‘historic opportunity’ to move on from parliament's traditional two-party dogfights.
‘Australia's new political landscape requires a government that can find new ways to develop policy and establish consensus around the major issues that come before the next parliament,’ Ms Gillard said.