Aust election: Decision expected at 5pm

A decision on which of the two major Australian parties will be able to form a minority federal government is likely to be announced at a press conference scheduled for 5pm Tuesday (NZT).

The three country independent MPs - Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott - who will make the decision have started arriving at Parliament House in Canberra for consideration of "final documents" from both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

"Then the three of us will get together and talk it through," Mr Windsor said, adding the trio was hoping they could make public their decision early on Tuesday afternoon.

Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott might not hear about the decision until it is announced publicly.

Mr Windsor admitted he was leaning one way but would not say whether it was towards Labor or the coalition.

He hasn't even told his wife.

"She wanted to know. No. She can't be trusted," he told reporters.

Nor have the three MPs yet talked to each other about their "specific votes".

Labor needs only the support of two of the three independents to form a minority government, while the coalition needs all three.

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce is not confident about the coalition's chances of winning over the independents.

"You get a sense that the momentum is slipping away from us," he told ABC Radio.

But his opposition frontbench colleague Andrew Robb is still hopeful the independents will back the coalition, describing private negotiations as genial and constructive.

"They have given us the impression they are still weighing up issues on both sides," he said.

Mr Robb rejected criticism Mr Abbott had lost the negotiation battle, despite running the better election campaign.

"I don't buy that argument. Let's see what happens today."

Mr Windsor says stability of government remains the most important issue for him.

"Can we put something in place that will last and work for a period of time," he said.

"What we all want to avoid, and I think the community as well wants to avoid, is a 75-all draw which would mean another election."

The coalition is counting West Australian National Tony Crook as one of its 73 lower house MPs.

Mr Crook said in a statement to AAP early on Monday evening he would support the coalition.

But he would sit on the cross-benches until the Liberals agreed to match the WA royalties for regions scheme with federal funding for regional infrastructure.


Labor - 2 seats

It won 72 seats at the election but has already enlisted the support of another independent, Andrew Wilkie, and the sole lower chamber member from the Greens party, Adam Bandt.

Coalition - 3 seats

Tony Abbott's Liberals-led Coalition picked up 73 seats in the election.


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