Of the independents and minor party members, Tony Crook (Nationals WA) and Bob Katter (Ind.) both backed the Coalition, while Adam Bandt (Greens), Andrew Wilkie (Ind.), Tony Windsor (Ind.) and Rob Oakeshott (Ind.) all offered their support to Labor, making it 76-74. Interesting, I don't think any of these figures have pledged to vote with their respective "side" on every issue, simply given their commitment to not support reckless no confidence motions or block supply. Hence, every issue will need to be debated on its merits (as it ought to be).
The final two figures to announce their intentions, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, mentioned three considerations as crucial in their decision: Labor's broadband policy (which is seen to favour rural Australia), the possibility of stability for the next three years (given Greens balance of power in the Senate and the recent swing against the ALP, they judged that Abbott was more likely to go to another vote sooner rather than later, which would be likely to remove their balance of power) and Labor's (slightly) stronger stance on climate policy.
So Prime Minister Gillard has avoided adding to her record as Australia's first female PM the dubious distinction of being one of its shortest-lived. Whether the ALP can govern with its herd of cats in support remains to be seen, but I'm not entirely cynical. It is a chance for much needed reforms in parliamentary processes, and will hopefully improve the quality of debate in the House as well as the Senate. But I'm not holding my breath on anything radically new emerging as a result.
In any case, I expect that governing will increasingly become a poisoned chalice as more of the serious global challenges of the next few decades continue to bite. It remains to be seen whether our political system can generate leaders willing to admit these difficulties honestly or whether we'll simply oscillate between alternative sides offering rosy visions of "progress resuming shortly".
I'd love to hear any other thoughts or reflections on this outcome.