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Abbott speaks with world leaders -

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TIM PALMER: While Tony Abbott hasn't been sworn in or decided on his new ministry, he has been busy on the phone talking with world leaders. Late yesterday and last night he spoke with the heads of Sri Lanka and Israel.

Our chief political correspondent Sabra Lane joins us now with more from Canberra.

Sabra, he went to Indonesia first on the phone. Now Mr Abbott's spoken to the president of Sri Lanka. What came up?

SABRA LANE: Yes, he talked with the Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday afternoon. The two leaders discussed developing a stronger relationship. And Mr Abbott thanked the president of Sri Lanka for the country's cooperation in dealing with people smuggling and asylum seekers and he said that he wanted the cooperation to continue.

And indeed Mr Abbott said that he wanted the closest possible cooperation on this issue. Sri Lanka has been one of the largest source countries for asylum seekers heading to Australia by boat. The past government described most of those people as economic migrants.

Sri Lanka will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November and Mr Abbott will attend that meeting. And it's expected the two leaders will have further extensive talks at that meeting as well.

Mr Abbott also spoke last night with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr Abbott assured the prime minister that he wanted Australia to have the strongest possible relationship with Israel too.

TIM PALMER: Now, back home the Liberal and National Parties will meet in Canberra tomorrow but there still won't be a finalisation of the ministry. It all seems dependent on the result in Indi, where the party's spokeswoman on industry Sophie Mirabella appears in trouble. What chances her appearance in Parliament, what chances her appearance in Cabinet?

SABRA LANE: Well, it's looking pretty slim at this state. Now the independent candidate in Indi, Cathy McGowan, is ahead in the seat of Indi. She has been ahead since the start of the week. But late yesterday the Australian Electoral Commission discovered a batch of votes in a wrongly labelled box at a pre-poll booth in Wangaratta.

Now, they'd been searching around for these votes because there'd been some irregularities with the count. Now, these votes favoured the independent candidate and last night the Electoral Commission updated its website. Cathy McGowan is now ahead of Mrs Mirabella by 1,449 votes on a two party-preferred basis.

Now, the result will depend on postal votes. They're continuing to dribble in. The Electoral Commission is expecting more this week and early next week, so maybe Tuesday, Wednesday before it can say who the likely winner is. And it will be the end of the week when the vote is finally declared.

Even if Mrs Mirabella does manage to hang on, Coalition colleague Dennis Jensen expects that she will be dropped from the ministry because being on a thin margin would make it very, very difficult for Mrs Mirabella to commit all the time required to fill a Cabinet position. And if she isn't in Cabinet, Tim, as things currently stand, that would leave just one woman left in Cabinet and that would be Julie Bishop.

TIM PALMER: What about the ALP leadership? Do we know who is going to stand in the end, or even what process will be used to select a leader?

SABRA LANE: Well, Caucus is meeting tomorrow. We know that Bill Shorten wants to stand. We still don't know whether Anthony Albanese will. There is a strong grass-roots campaign underway for him to nominate.

If he does nominate, there will be a ballot and under the new rules brought in by Kevin Rudd, that process could last a month with members given 50 per cent say. But it might not be done before Parliament's back. And in that case, neither Mr Shorten nor Mr Albanese could lead the party. That job would go to the next most senior MP in the House and some believe that's Chris Bowen, but again there's uncertainty in Labor about that, Tim. It's looking like a bit of a mess.

Now Labor Senator Stephen Conroy has slammed these new rules, saying that it's a complete farce. But it has to be remembered that Caucus ticked off on this process in July. Some have labelled it "Kevin's Curse". An MP favourable to Mr Rudd has told the ABC that yes, the new rules regarding the leadership were drawn up in a hasty manner by a non-practitioner. I think that's the kindest way, Tim, perhaps, of admitting that it's a dog's breakfast.

TIM PALMER: And they're stuck with it for now, at least. Sabra Lane, our chief political correspondent from Canberra, thank you.