Former independent Rob Oakeshott says after the way the federal government handled the budget, he’s comfortable with his 2010 decision to back Labor.

Former independent MP Rob Oakeshott has panned the federal government’s handling of the budget and says he’s glad he backed Labor to power in 2010.

On the first anniversary of the Abbott government, Mr Oakeshott told a Brisbane Writers Festival audience he’s now seeing what would have happened if he and fellow independents Tony Windsor and Bob Katter had struck a deal with the coalition instead of Labor.

The retired politician said the trio had faced a blunt choice between former prime minister Julia Gillard’s “transactional” leadership style versus the “crash or crash through” adversarial style of Tony Abbott following 2010’s hung parliament.

“I think it’s too early to call on many fronts as to whether it (the coalition) can be a functioning government but I’ve got to say one year in, and particularly the way the budget process is being handled, I’m very comfortable with the decision I made in 2010,” Mr Oakeshott told a sold-out crowd of about 250 people on Sunday.

Some budget measures are still yet to clear parliament, and critics say it disproportionately targets those on lower incomes.

Mr Oakeshott who resigned in 2013, said a functioning government needed to compromise to get results and Mr Abbott would need to negotiate with foes in the Senate, lower house and his own party.

The former Member for Lyne in NSW, who’s now concentrating on raising his four young children, appeared at the festival alongside former federal Labor treasurer Wayne Swan and retired Greens leader Bob Brown.

All three men have released books recently.

Mr Swan said Australians’ capacity to achieve their full potential was being threatened by government policies such as deregulating university fees, which in the long term would produce a more unequal nation.

Mr Brown said Australia was positioned to lead the world on humanitarian and environmental issues but was going backwards because of a “small-minded, hubristic government”.