Abbott Leads Coalition To Decisive Victory; Rudd Saves The Furniture And Quits ALP Leadership; Labor Loses 14 Seats With Lowest Primary Vote Since 1931

Disunity And Perceptions Of Incompetence And Waste End Six Years Of Labor Rule; Greens Vote Drops But Bandt Wins Easily; Wilkie Secures Denison; Minor Groups Likely To Control Senate

Abbott

The Liberal Party leader, Tony Abbott, will become Australia’s 28th prime minister, after his Liberal-Nationals Coalition won at least an extra 16 seats in the federal election that saw the ALP’s primary vote fall to its lowest level since 1931.

There has been a 3.53% national swing against the ALP. The Coalition has polled 53.33% of the two-party-preferred vote, compared to the ALP’s 46.67%.

The Coalition is likely to govern with around 90 seats, just short of the 94 Abbott’s mentor, John Howard, won in his first victory in 1996.

Conceding defeat in Brisbane last night, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that he would quit the Labor leadership. In an upbeat speech criticised by some, Rudd reaffirmed Labor values and proclaimed the achievements of his government.

Many Labor people saw Rudd’s restoration as prime minister as a strategy “to save the furniture” and this he did. The ALP appears to have lost 14 seats and less than 20 in total. It is likely to have around 57 seats in the new House of Representatives, a result better than that achieved by Paul Keating in his 1996 defeat. Under Julia Gillard, the polls showed the ALP was likely to lose 30-40 seats.

In NSW, the ALP lost the seats of Banks, Robertson, Dobell, Lindsay and Page. It is behind in Eden-Monaro and Reid. It retained Greenway with a pro-Labor swing of 3%, a reflection of the lacklustre Liberal candidacy of Jaymes Diaz. It is clinging to a very slender lead in Barton and a narrow lead in Parramatta.

In Victoria, the ALP lost Deakin, La Trobe and Corangamite. McEwen remains in doubt but the ALP is ahead.

In Tasmania, the ALP lost Bass, Braddon and Lyons.

In South Australia, the ALP lost Hindmarsh.

In Queensland, the ALP has retained 6 of its 8 seats, whilst Capricornia and Petrie remain in doubt with the ALP just ahead in Capricornia and behind in Petrie. Peter Beattie was decisively defeated in his bid to take Forde from the LNP. Kevin Rudd resisted a 5% swing to retain Griffith.

In Western Australia, no seats have changed hands. Alannah MacTiernan easily retained Perth and Gary Gray survived a small swing against him in Brand.

In the Northern Territory, the status quo of one seat each appears to be maintained, although both seats are close.

In the Australian Capital Territory, the ALP easily retained both of its seats against negligible swings.

At the close of counting last night, the Australian Electoral Commission listed six seats as close: Petrie and Capricornia in Queensland; Reid, Eden-Monaro and Barton in NSW; and McEwen in Victoria.

The ALP will be pleased that it has held onto seats such as McMahon, Blaxland, Werriwa, Kingsford Smith and Chifley in Sydney, as well as Chisholm, Isaacs, Bruce, Corio and Bendigo in Victoria. In South Australia, minister Kate Ellis has held on in Adelaide. In Queensland, former Treasurer Wayne Swan survived in Lilley, as did Graham Perrett in Moreton. The no-change outcome in Western Australia is a far cry from the expected wipeout earlier this year.

However, the ALP’s national primary vote of 33.85% is the party’s lowest since 1931, lower than the vote achieved in the significant defeats of 1996, 1977, 1975, 1966 and 1949. For many, this will be the true story of the election: the ALP has been reduced to its absolute bedrock support base.

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Abbott’s Claims Victory; Offers Restoration Of Trust And Competence

Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal Party since December 2009, will be the seventh Liberal prime minister since Robert Menzies created the party in 1944. He will govern with around 90 seats, around 60% of the chamber.

It is a personal victory for Abbott who has waged a sustained campaign against the Rudd and Gillard governments. Underestimated and derided by his opponents, Abbott has been elected on the strength of his simple message to abolish the carbon and mining taxes, reduce government spending and “stop the boats”. Most of all, Abbott promised to restore trust and competence to government.

In his victory speech, Abbott said: “I can inform you that the government of Australia has changed for just the seventh time in 60 years.” [In fact, it is the seventh time in 64 years.]

“The coalition has won 13 seats clearly with 10 seats in play and the Labor Party’s vote is at the lowest level in 100 years,” Abbott said.

He reiterated his promised to restore trust and competence to government.

Abbott indicated he in no rush to be sworn in as prime minister, saying it was likely within about a week.

  • Listen to Abbott’s victory speech (10m)
  • Watch Abbott’s speech (9m)

Transcript of Tony Abbott’s victory speech.

My friends, thank you. Thank you so much.

I can inform you that the government of Australia has changed for just the seventh time.

You obviously enjoyed hearing it, so let me say it again, the government of Australia has changed. For just the seventh time in 60 years the government of Australia has changed.

The Coalition has won 13 seats clearly, with 10 seats still in play and I can inform you that the Australian Labor Party’s vote is at the lowest level in more than one hundred years.

So, tonight, for the last time in this campaign it is my honour to address you, the people of Australia.

Mr Rudd has conceded defeat.

He has been the prime minister of this country, not once, but twice, so I acknowledge his service to the people of our nation.

I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy and which purposefully and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments to you, the Australian people.

Something very significant has happened today. Today, the people of Australia have declared that the right to govern this country does not belong to Mr Rudd, or to me, or to his party, or to ours, but it belongs to you, the people of Australia.

It is the people of Australia who determine the government and the prime ministership of this country and you will punish anyone who takes you for granted.

That is how it should be in a great democracy such as ours.

So, my friends, in a week or so the Governor-General will swear in a new government.

A government that says what it means, and means what it says.

A government of no surprises and no excuses.

A government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential.

And a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words.

In three years’ time the carbon tax will be gone, the boats will be stopped, the budget will be on track for a believable surplus and the roads of the 21st century will finally be well underway.

From today I declare that Australia is under new management and that Australia is once more open for business.

Today, hundreds of thousands of people would have voted for the Liberal and National Parties for the first time in their lives.

I give you all this assurance – we will not let you down.

A good government is one that governs for all Australians, including those who haven’t voted for it.

A good government is one with a duty to help everyone to maximise his or her potential, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and our forgotten families, as well as those who Menzies described as ‘lifters, not leaners.’

We will not leave anyone behind.

I want to thank my strong and united Liberal and National Party Coalition team.

I thank Julie Bishop, Warren Truss, Joe Hockey.

I thank the Members of the Shadow Cabinet.

I thank my parliamentary team.

I thank all our candidates, those who have succeeded and those who haven’t, for the faith that you have placed in me.

I thank the Coalition Premiers, all of them, who have stood shoulder to shoulder with their federal colleagues throughout this campaign.

I thank the Liberal Party organisation, President Alan Stockdale and Federal Director Brian Loughnane – and, yes, it is right that you should show such enthusiasm for Brian Loughnane because he has run our most professional campaign ever.

I thank my personal staff led by Peta Credlin, who is the smartest and the fiercest political warrior I have ever worked with.

I thank my family who have given me so much and supported me throughout public life.

I thank the people of Warringah for returning me as their member of parliament for the eighth successive time.

Most of all, I thank you, the people of Australia, who have just given me the greatest honour and the heaviest responsibility that any member of parliament can have.

I am both proud and humbled as I shoulder the duties of government.

The time for campaigning has passed.

The time for governing has arrived.

I pledge myself to the service of our country.

I have many friends in this audience. I say thank you to each one.

We have been on a journey together – a long, long journey. May it continue and may it help to bring better times to this great country of which we are all so very, very proud.

Thank you so much.

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Rudd, Twice Prime Minister, Departs The Stage

Rudd

Whilst giving no indication of whether he would create a by-election in Griffith, Kevin Rudd said that it was time for him to stand aside. In his concession speech, he wished Abbott well and said he would welcome him graciously to The Lodge as John Howard did to him in 2007.

“I gave it my all but it was not enough to win,” Rudd told the crowd of ALP supporters in Brisbane. “I’m proud we’ve preserved the parliamentary party as a viable force for the future… I’m proud that every Cabinet minister has been returned at this election and practically every other member of the executive.”

Rudd spoke at length about the Labor Party and its values. He referred to Ben Chifley’s Light on the Hill speech and compared it to Obama’s “audacity of hope”.

Of his Liberal opponent, a former president of the Australian Medical Association, Rudd joked: “It would be uncharitable of me to say, ‘Bill Glasson, eat your heart out’, so I won’t.”

Rudd was greeted before his speech with loud cheers. “Jeez,” he said, “I thought we lost.”

  • Listen to Kevin Rudd’s concession speech (22m)
  • Watch Rudd (21m)

Transcript of Kevin Rudd’s convession speech.

Geez, I thought we’d lost. My fellow Australians, my fellow Queenslanders. And follow members of the great Australian Labor Party. Today we have fought the good fight as the great Australian Labor Party. Tonight is the time to unite as the great Australian nation. Because whatever our politics may be we are all first and foremost Australian. And the things that unite us are more powerful than the things that divide us which is why the world marvels at Australia.

This country which can manage its political differences peacefully and conduct the most vigorous of debates peacefully and resolve our politics peacefully and with civility, that is why this country is such a great country is such a great country. And that in this marvellous tapestry of modern Australia, the mosaic of our multicultural nation that with fashion such unity out of diversity, therein lies the great Australian miracle.

Which is why we are all proud to be Australian. A short time ago I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at these national elections.

As PM of Australia I wish him well now in the high office of PM of this country. Therese and I wish he, Margie and their family well in coping with the stresses and strains of high office that lie ahead. We know a little bit of what that is like.

And Therese and I look forward to greeting them at the Lodge early next week in the same gracious manner with which Mr and Mrs Howard welcomed us six years ago. Now I want to speak to Labor people and Labor supporters everywhere across Australia.

Geez, a couple more days we might have got there. I know that Labor hearts are heavy across the nation tonight and as your PM and as your parliamentary leader of the great Australian Labor Party I accept responsibility. I gave it my all but it was not enough for us to win. I’m proud that despite all the prophets of doom that we have preserved our Federal Parliamentary Labor Party as a viable fighting force for the future.

And I’m also proud of the fact that despite the pundits we appear to have held every seat in Queensland.

I saw Sky News just before saying we’re all gone, including me. Anyway. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve held each of our seats in Queensland, I’m proud of the fact that every cabinet minister has been returned at this election. And I’m proud that practically all other members of our executive have been returned as well. But tonight, but tonight we have lost many fine Labor men and women from our Parliament and I would like to thank them personally for their courage and their unswerving commitment to our cause, to our party and to our nation.

Just as I would like to thank each and every one of you, the true believers of Australia, who have worked so hard this campaign for your unswerving commitment and to our cause and to our nation.

For our party and for our movement we have known defeat before but I say this to you, throughout our 122-year history we have always, always risen from defeat. To renew our party with fresh vigour and with new ideas for the future. And we’ll do it again. Ben Chifley’s light on the hill still burns bright across Australia. It is a flame that cannot be extinguished and while there’s still breath in Labor bodies, strength in Labor sinews and hope in Labor hearts Ben Chifley’s light on the hill will continue forever.

So in the time of rebuilding that lies ahead we must never lose sight of that clear and guiding light. For it remains the beacon of progressive politics for us all. It is what others have called the audacity of hope. Or put more simply, our simple audacious belief that we can make our community and our country and world a better place for all, not just for some, for all, not just for some. And a progressive view of politics that says that we can believe that we can make this community a nation world of ours a better place than the one we inherited from our forebears. That’s the progressive vision of the future. Once again tonight I thank the good burghers of Griffith for their support.

It would be un prime ministerial of me to say Bill Glasson eat your heart out, so I won’t. The good people of Griffith, the good people of Brisbane south side, it is such a fantastic community and I thank them for their support.

It is a truly marvellous part of Australia and I thank them for again returning me as their local member. For the rest of my parliamentary and ministerial team I’d like to say a few words. I’d like to thank directly our Deputy PM Anthony Albanese.

(All chant) Albo! Albo! Albo!

Albo for a Rabbitohs supporter you’ve got a lot of support up here in Broncos land. I thank you, Albo, for your courage, your loyalty,your courage, your loyalty, your remarkable humour and your determination always to fight, fight and fight… I’d also like to thank tonight our Senate leader, Penny Wong, for her strength.

Rarely, Penny, do South Australians get that welcome up here. Mind you I’m married to one. I thank you, Penny, for your strength, your commonsense and your friendship just as I thank your deputy Jacinta Collins for hers. To the cabinet, the ministers and the parliamentary secretaries, I value your energy, your fighting spirit and your dedication and that of all your staff who have been out there supporting us all the way through. To our branch members, our campaign workers and our volunteers, I thankyou, the army of true believers. I thank, too, our affiliated unions across the nation. For your solidarity with Labor’s cause and for your formidable work in the field, you too are the heart and soul of our Labor movement, you too are part of the army of true believers. To my prime ministerial staff, what a fantastic team. Bruce Hawker is here somewhere, a person who has worked on 40 Labor campaigns over the years, is a campaign veteran. Give him a round of applause. Patrick Gorman who has been with me…

And a sandgroper from WA has settled into Queensland remarkably well. Patrick, you’ve been with me for so long, I thank you for your loyalty, and sense of humour. Jessica Bucovsky for managing my world. She’s a Queenslander, by the way. Fiona Sugden, my press secretary, who came back from her previous work with me as PM to join this cause of the last couple of months. Fiona, we love you. Three kids under three or four, how does she do it with a baby of six or seven months? Wonder woman, that’s what I say. And also, of course, Corrie McKenzie who is here as my deputy chief of staff, Jim Murphy my chief of staff, the rest of my immediate team, Matthew Franklin, Eamonn Fitzpatrick and Maggie Lloyd, all all the other fantastic members of my staff, I love you all.

And for putting up with me, I really do thank you for that. Finally, I’d like to thank also our national secretary, George Wright, and his incredible staff of 150 workers at campaign headquarters down there in Melbourne for all the work you have done, thank you, team. My wonderful electoral staff led by Katrina Hicks, put your hand up, Katrina. And the whole electoral team, including my longest serving staff member Fleur Foster, you are a team of champions. Malcolm McMillan, the president of our FEC, Les Henning, its treasurer, all of our branch members in the Griffith FEC, you are marvels. And finally, to each and every member of my family here. They are my life, my hope, my encouragement, my support and without them I could have done none of this. With them it has been possible. Therese and Marcus, to Nicholas and Zara, I love you all. Jessica and Albert were with us until only 30 minutes ago. Our bub, our granddaughter Josie, has come down with a fever. They’re now off at the local hospital. That’s life on the campaign. She would be here in spirit as 14 months old, the youngest young Labor member ever. Friends, you have had a hard day, so let’s bring this to a close when I say throughout our history, we the Labor Party have been a party of hard heads and soft hearts. That is the genius of Labor, always attending to the tough questions of the economy and national security through war and through peace, through depression and recession, but never allowing our hearts to harden to those of our Australian family who are the most vulnerable. It is this combination which is the unique.

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Victory For Bandt And Wilkie; Swing Against Katter

Whilst the Nationals easily reclaimed the NSW seats of Lyne and New England, following the retirements of Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, the other two members of the crossbenches who supported the minority government in the 43rd parliament experienced swings in their favour.

In the Hobart-based seat of Denison, Andrew Wilkie increased his primary vote by 16.56% to 38.27% and won with 65% of the two-party-preferred vote. Wilkie signed an agreement to support the Gillard government in 2010. He walked out of the arrangement after Gillard reneged on her pledge to introduce poker machine reforms. His victory in one of the ALP’s formerly safest seats is a significant achievement, in line with the large swings of over 10% against the ALP in the rest of Tasmania.

The Australian Greens polled 8.42% of the vote nationally, a drop of 3.07% from 2010. But in the Melbourne electorate, Adam Bandt easily won re-election with a 7.54% increase in his primary vote, taking it to 43.41%. Bandt has won the seat with 55.07% of the two-party vote. It is an historic re-election that will disappoint the ALP.

The ALP’s primary vote fell 11.79% to 27.22%, reflecting a combination of support for Bandt and rejection of the Labor government’s policies on issues such as asylum seekers.

Around the nation, the Greens vote fell in suburban and rural areas, whilst holding up in inner-suburban and inner-city areas. In Melbourne Ports, the Greens won 21.26% of the primary vote, whilst in Goldstein, Grayndler, Sydney and Wentworth the party polled 16.26%, 22.87%, 17.31% and 14.39% respectively.

The independent member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, suffered a 16.34% swing against him, reducing him to 52% of the two-party vote. His primary vote fell 17.64% to 29.59%. The reasons for this are not clear but the LNP improved its primary vote by 14.62% to 40.86%. Katter has held the seat since 1993, first as a National and as an independent since 2001.

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Vote Leader Unclear In Indi; Clive Palmer In The Hunt For Fairfax

Two interesting results emerged during the count last night. In Indi, shadow minister Sophie Mirabella is fending off a concerted challenge from an independent, Cathy McGowan. A 7.49% swing against Mirabella has reduced her primary vote to 44.36%, whilst McGowan has 32.18%.

It is not clear whether preferences will catapult McGowan ahead of Mirabella. The ALP has 11.27% of the vote and the Greens have 3.16%. There are 7 other candidates with a smattering of votes. The situation in Indi might become clearer today. There are reportedly large numbers of pre-poll votes.

In Fairfax, Clive Palmer has polled 27.49% of the primary vote in the usually safe Liberal seat. The LNP’s vote has declined by 8.53% to 40.92%. However, the ALP is on 18.05%, down 9.26%, whilst the Greens have 8.26%, down 9.74%. Depending on the flow of preferences, Palmer could win the seat. As with Indi, this will become clearer in the next day or so.

Palmer’s Palmer United Party has won 5.59% of the primary vote nationally. It was most dominant in Queensland, where it may win a Senate seat. Palmer advertised extensively on television during the election campaign.

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Grab-Bag Of Minor Parties Vying For Senate Positions; Senate Control Likely To Be Fraught

It is too early to be definitive about the Senate results but it appears that more minor parties will gain seats as of July 1 next year. It is possible that the Labor-Greens control of the Senate will end.

In Queensland, the Palmer United Party has 0.7 of a quota and could win on preferences.

The Greens are on track to win an extra Senate seat in Victoria, although it is not clear if Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has retained her seat in South Australia. In Western Australia, Senator Scott Ludlam has 0.7 of a quota.

Senator Nick Xenophon has 1.8 quotas in South Australia, securing his own re-election. His preferences will be vital to the outcome of the sixth and final position.

The Senate position will become clearer in the coming days. It will be several weeks before all the ballots have been processed and recorded in the Australian Electoral Commission computer system which will determine the vital sixth positions in each state.

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Good Candidates Prove Their Worth In Election; Celebrity Blow-Ins Fail

It is clear from last night’s results that candidate quality matters.

The standout example of this is the failure of the Liberal candidate in Greenway, Jaymes Diaz, to win the seat. The ALP’s sitting member, Michelle Rowland, is one of the few ALP members to record a swing towards her.

Similarly, in Western Australia, Alannah MacTiernan has easily retained Perth. In Melbourne, Speaker Anna Burke retained Chisholm against a concerted campaign by the Liberal Party.

In Forde, the former Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, suffered a swing of 2.48% that saw him win only 45.89% of the two-party vote. It has been suggested that voters reacted badly to Beattie being parachuted into the southern Brisbane electorate.

In Bennelong, Jason Yat-Sen Li failed to unseat Liberal incumbent John Alexander. Kevin Rudd personally recruited Li at the beginning of the campaign but there was a 4.52% swing against the ALP. The party polled only 42.36% of the two-party vote.

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Informal Vote Increases Again

The informal vote in yesterday’s election stands at 5.90%, up 0.35% over the 2010 result.

This is the highest recorded informal vote in the House of Representatives since 1984. The 1984 result can be explained partly as a consequence of confusion with the Senate ballot paper where above-the-line voting was introduced that year.

The figure this year represents 662,329 people who wasted their vote either accidentally or on purpose.

As in previous elections, the informal vote was particularly high in western Sydney seats with high proportions of non-English speaking constituents. It was 14.29% in Blaxland, 14.24% in Watson, 13.28% in Werriwa, 13.17% in Chifley and 11.63% in McMahon.

This contrasts with the 5.42% informal vote in Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah.

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