Embattled Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's conservative coalition seemed "absolutely certain" to emerge as frontrunner following the general election, a leading analyst predicted on Wednesday, and may even secure a majority.
Mr Turnbull campaigned on a pledge to reduce taxes for businesses but he will struggle to pass his agenda through an unruly upper house, or senate, which includes an assortment of minor parties and independents.
He said he agreed to support the government because he did not believe the opposition centre-left Labor Party could form a minority government and he did not want to force Australians to go back to the polls.
The best Labor can hope for is to form a minority government needing the support of potentially five crossbench MPs to pass legislation.
He said there should be a clearer picture of the results today.
Turnbull became prime minister in September after ousting unpopular predecessor Tony Abbott in a party room vote in a bid to put the government in a position to win this year's election.
Turnbull said he was confident of forming a majority government once the remaining votes in tight seats are counted, and his visit to Katter in Queensland was purely to 'cover his bases'.
Standard and Poor's on Thursday cut Australia's credit rating outlook to negative from stable, threatening a downgrade of its coveted triple A status, as Turnbull flew to northern Queensland state to win support from a maverick former member of the ruling conservative coalition.
"I have had very constructive discussions with Katter and I thank him for the support that he has given my government", Turnbull said in a brief statement after the pair met in Brisbane.
South Australian Nick Xenophon, who will have one MP in the house and a voting bloc in the Senate in the new parliament, has yet to make any public declarations about supporting Turnbull.
"Turnbull can only bring Abbott back to the Cabinet if they can fix their relationship to the extent that they can actually work together", he told ABC Television.
Amid the counting of 1.5 million postal and absentee votes, the coalition has now won 72 seats and is just four short of a majority in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament.
"It's likely in coming days that the Liberals will scrape over the line but the combination of a PM with no authority, a government with no direction and a Liberal Party at war with itself, will see Australians back at the polls within the year", Labor Party leader Bill Shorten told a party gathering in Canberra.
"We will be campaign-ready from this day onwards".
The prime minister's political strategy has backfired, The World Weekly reported.
As the mining boom has petered out in recent years, Australian leaders on both sides of politics have struggled to stay on the good side of voters and detractors in their own parties.
"I do so (give my support) with no great enthusiasm".
He's also likely to look favourably on a coalition election policy proposal announced by Nationals' leader and Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce to implement a Regional Investment Corporation (RIC).