Australian PM's majority cut to single seat

Key parliamentarian withdraws support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard, alleging she reneged on gambling reform.

    Julia Gillard's Labour-led coalition government remains deeply unpopular in Australia [GALLO/GETTY]

    An independent member of Australia's parliament has withdrawn his support for Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, cutting her Labour minority government's buffer to just a single vote.

    Andrew Wilkie, who represents the island state of Tasmania, said he reached his decision to withdraw his support after Gillard reneged on a deal to reform laws on slot-machine gambling.

    "I regard the prime minister to be in breach of the written agreement she signed, leaving me no option but to honour my word and end my current relationship with her government," he told journalists.

    Gillard had offered a compromise deal on legislating popular "pokie" machines, seeking a trial on news laws and pushing out a deadline until after the next elections, due in 2013.

    She formed a minority government with a one-seat majority after dead-heat elections in 2010.

    Gillard tightened her hold on power in November when an opposition politician suddenly defected to become parliament speaker, boosting her chances of surviving a full term in office.

    The Labour government remain deeply unpopular, with polls showing they would be ousted from power if an election were to be held tomorrow.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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