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Environment Minister discusses Labor's election results.

MAX WALSH: Throughout the night we tracked the progress of voting as recorded by the Electoral Office's computer. At this election the votes were computed on a booth by booth basis. Had there been a clear winner, the result would have been known by 7.30 last night. As it is, we still don't know the result. But here's how the computer had the state of Parliament when counting stopped at 2 a.m. And that shows a line and ball situation. Incidentally, what we've done there is we've distributed the Democrat and Independents vote on a 60 : 40 basis, favouring the ALP.

But here's where the swings occurred. As you can see, it was Victoria which cost the ALP dearly. In fact, when it comes up, it will show that in Victoria the swing against the ALP was 6.2 per cent - that's on a two party preferred basis; and 4.8 per cent in Western Australia. In Queensland they picked up a 0.7 per cent swing, and in New South Wales, 0.4. That was really disappointing for the ALP strategists.

But it was the Graham Richardson strategy of winning the environmental vote which may get Labor back over the line. Stephen O'Doherty spoke with Labor's master tactician, after voting had stopped early this morning.

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: Well, Senator Richardson, have you won?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Well, as Billy Snedden once said, we haven't lost. I think the situation is, on a worst case scenario, if everything went wrong that could possibly go wrong, you could have a hung Parliament in which Mack and Caldicott had the balance of power. A more likely result, however, is that Labor will have a majority of two, four or six.

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: Well, if you get across the line, you've won with a very slim majority, how unstable does that make the next Government?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Neville Wran had a majority of one when he got into power in '76. He was pretty stable for a decade. Bob Menzies carried a majority of one through a national Parliament for two years in '61; he managed. If they can manage, there's no reason why we can't either. We look like a pretty healthy bunch, don't we?

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: But does it mean for its next term the Government can't govern effectively, it can't do all those bad news things that governments need to do?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Well, the temptation's always there, but when you've got people like Keating at the helm it's pretty difficult to yield to temptation; they won't let you.

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: Keating at the helm?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Well, he's one of the guys at the helm. When it comes to the economic helm, he's the bloke who's driving the tiller, isn't he?

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: How long will Mr Hawke remain Prime Minister?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Look, we couldn't have won this election without Hawke leading us. One of the main reasons we won is because Hawke was leading us. He is an extraordinarily popular politician. There is not one other leader in this country who could ever dream of going to an election with the interest rates at 17 per cent, and come out of it looking like he might win. That's extraordinary. That is political history in the making.

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: Will Paul Keating become Prime Minister before the next election?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Bob Hawke has said he intends to run for his full term, and I believe him.

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: But realistically, the party has to move on, doesn't it? You have to go to the next election with somebody who's going to run full term?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Well, I think we'll go into the next election with a leader who'll run full term. That's not going to be a problem.

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: So, will it be Paul Keating who'll run full term?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Well, that will be up to Bob Hawke and Paul Keating to sort out. If Bob Hawke wants to run again after this time, he will.

STEPHEN O'DOHERTY: But he won't run for another full term, yet another full term?

GRAHAM RICHARDSON: Hawkie is 60. He is the healthiest 60-year-old I have ever seen. When they write medical history books, they'll write about him as well, not just political history. The fellow is lively, youngish, and anxious to continue. Let's not write him off just yet; he's just had an amazing win.