Australia Industry Minister Says Conservatives Won National Elections

   By Rob Taylor 
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CANBERRA, Australia–Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said Friday that the conservative government had won elections held nearly a week ago, despite vote-counting continuing in a number of closely contested seats.

Mr. Pyne, a senior member of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Cabinet, said the conservatives had an unassailable lead over the opposition Labor Party to form either a majority government or one with the support of key independent lawmakers such as Bob Katter.

The center-right coalition has already secured 74 of the 76 seats needed to win. It is also expected to win at least three of six seats that remain officially too close to call.

“We’ve won again,” Mr. Pyne told Australian television. “That’s our sixth victory out of eight in the last 20 years. You’d say that we are an election-winning machine in the Liberal Party.”

Antony Green, a veteran election analyst for the Australian Broadcasting Corp., also said the “Prime Minister will still be the Prime Minister.”

Mr. Turnbull isn’t likely to claim victory until election officials finish counting, which could take several days. He planned to continue contingency negotiations with another unaligned lawmaker, Cathy McGowan, after securing the support of Mr. Katter on Thursday.

However, the returned government will face difficulty passing reform bills through an even more obdurate upper house Senate, where the balance of power will rest with a fringe parties and independents with wildly different views.

On Thursday, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings downgraded the outlook for Australia’s AAA credit rating to negative, citing the uncertain political environment and doubts Mr. Turnbull will be able to push forward any reforms to make inroads into the country’s debt and deficit quickly.

-Write to Rob Taylor at rob.taylor[a]

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