Scott Morrison has claimed a hung parliament would be “governed by Twitter” in a last-minute effort to deter voters from backing independent candidates.
If neither the Coalition nor Labor secures the 76 seats, they will need to negotiate with members of the cross bench in order to form government.
This would include any Climate 200-backed “teal” independents who make it into parliament.
In an election eve morning media blitz on Friday, the Prime Minister said a bigger cross bench would make parliament “weak” and insinuated progressive social media users would influence certain independents.
“The last thing we need is a weak parliament where basically, you know, people are voting based on what Twitter’s saying,” he told Brisbane radio.
“And if a government has to negotiate its existence every day, based on how independents are going to jump by what’s been said on Twitter, then frankly, that’s not going to help the country be strong at this time.”
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Mr Morrison has previously claimed he wouldn’t do a deal with independent MPs even if it meant giving up his chance to be returned to power.
But he softened his position on Friday morning, saying he hadn’t ruled out governing in a hung parliament but he wouldn’t “trade policies” with independent MPs.
“We form a government based on people supporting our policies,” he told Melbourne radio.
“If they want to support our policies, great, but we’re not about to pursue policies that we think would harm the national interests of the economy, the jobs push up inflation, and push up interest rates.
“Will I trade policies? No, no.”
Mr Morrison wouldn’t rule out “talking” to independent MPs “if they want to support our policies”, indicating he would accept confidence and supply from members of the cross bench who would back the Coalition.
Mr Morrison said the Greens and the teal independents — who are challenging mostly sitting Liberal MPs on a platform of climate change and government integrity — “do not support our policies”.
“The Greens do not support our policies and frankly we don’t support theirs because we think they’ll harm Australia,” he said.
Melbourne MP Adam Bandt has since his election in 2010 been the only Greens MP to make it into the House of Representatives, but the party is eyeing other inner city seats across the country at this election.
The Greens have said they would support Labor in the event of a hung parliament and their central goal at this election is to oust the Morrison government.
The teal independents have refused to say which major party they would support in the event of being elected to a hung parliament, but they are expected to push for higher greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
High-profile independent candidate Monique Ryan, who is threatening to oust Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong, has said she would negotiate with whichever party had stronger policies on government integrity and climate change.
Coalition frontbenchers including Mr Morrison and under-threat Liberals have repeatedly claimed that voting for independents will be a vote for “chaos” and “for the Labor Party”.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has also previously claimed he will not do a deal with independents and minor party MPs, saying he is confident Labor can govern in its own right.