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Crossbench shaping up as climate battleground

With more than half of votes counted on Saturday night, it remained unclear exactly how many independents will join Ms Steggall on the lower house crossbench, although it is likely to include fellow independent Andrew Wilkie, firebrand North Queensland MP Bob Katter and Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Ms Steggall promised to “work collaboratively with all sides of politics so that we can achieve results”.

“I will push for real action, so our children and generations to come, they can enjoy the environment and our beautiful beaches, and our beautiful country, the way we enjoy it.”

Ms Steggall will join Mr Wilkie and Mr Bandt in pushing for deeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and a faster adoption of renewable energy, in an alliance that would include Indi candidate Helen Haines if she is successful in her bid to win that seat following the retirement of sitting independent Cathy McGowan.

The like-minded independents want the new government to block the controversial Adani coal mine and fight for “real action” on climate change.

But they will face opposition from Mr Katter, who will fight for the Galilee basin to be opened up for coal mining to deliver jobs in north Queensland and push the government to build and own the railway line connecting Adani’s Carmichael mine to the Abbot Point port.

Bob Katter wants the Galilee Basin opened up for coal mining.

Bob Katter wants the Galilee Basin opened up for coal mining.Credit:ninevms

Mr Katter told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age the Labor Party had “stuffed up” the election by failing to understand how important the issue was to Queensland voters in regions plagued by high unemployment.

“There were six marginal seats which they could have picked up,” he said.

Mr Wilkie is the only independent to have said he will not “do a deal with one party or the other to help them form government”, although he has previously called for stronger action on climate change.

South Australian Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie, who last year launched the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action demanding “genuine and meaningful action”, will also play a key role if she holds her seat.

Ms Sharkie was on Saturday night locked in a tight contest for her South Australian seat of Mayo, facing off against Liberal candidate Georgina Downer, who unsuccessfully challenged her at last year’s byelection.

With almost 70 per cent of the primary vote counted, Ms Downer was ahead 37 per cent to Ms Sharkie’s 34.5 per cent.

Kerryn Phelps, who won the Sydney seat of Wentworth in a byelection late last year, was locked in a fight with Liberal candidate Dave Sharma. The seat was too close to call, but late in the evening Mr Sharma was slightly ahead.

Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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