With a hung parliament looking likely, there’s much to be done before Australia has a government.
The last hung parliament was in 2010, which was the first of its kind since the 1940 election.
At that time, Labor and the coalition won 72 seats each in the 150-seat House of Representatives.
Six crossbench MPs held the balance of power, four of whom sided with Labor leader Julia Gillard to form minority government based on written formal agreements.
Two of the queenmakers remain in parliament after Saturday’s election – Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie and Greens MP Adam Bandt.
They will be joined on the crossbench by re-elected Victorian independent Cathy McGowan, Nick Xenophon Team’s Rebekha Sharkie and maverick veteran Queensland MP Bob Katter.
Mr Wilkie and Ms McGowan have stated they won’t make any formal deals with either major party.
The Tasmanian MP knows from experience about the fickle nature of such deals – he was burned by the Gillard government over his pokies reforms.
Mr Katter has a long-standing commitment that he would not support any party that did not back his 20-point plan for Australia, which includes protectionism and other unpalatable measures for both Labor and the coalition.
The Greens prior to the election rejected the notion of any deal being done with the coalition, but a written deal with Labor is not beyond contemplation.
Nick Xenophon says he’s open to talks with whoever has the most MPs when counting concludes.
If the final result is 75 coalition MPs to Labor’s 70 with five crossbenchers, the ball will be in Mr Turnbull’s court to convince one extra MP to back his government on budget supply and confidence.
However he’ll need to convince more than one, given the tenuous nature of a 76-seat government and the fact that a Speaker will be needed – effectively taking one number off the government from the get-go.
Mr Turnbull – who has made a career of negotiating big business deals – has already reached out to Mr Wilkie, Ms McGowan and NXT.
Ms McGowan says she has a ‘good working relationship’ with the prime minister and has agreed to stay in contact in coming days.
Once the prime minister is satisfied he has the numbers, he can go to the parliament, elect a Speaker and get on with business.
A Labor deal with all six crossbenchers to add to its 70 appears a much less likely scenario.