Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott will lead a Coalition government with a strong majority after yesterday’s federal election. The Coalition looks to have picked up 15-20 seats and will hold around 90 in a new Parliament; when counting had finished last night, the Coalition was predicted to pick up 89 seats to Labor’s 57. The final numbers will almost certainly shift as counting resumes today and postal ballots are counted in the days ahead.
Abbott’s gains came in NSW (a 3% swing to the Coalition), Victoria (5.25%) and Tasmania (10%), as well as a seat each in South Australia (5.5%) and Queensland (1.5%). The only faint positives for Labor was that the predicted rout in western Sydney failed to materialise, with Treasurer Chris Bowen holding his seat of McMahon and Jaymes Diaz’s debacle of a campaign for the Liberals producing a swing to Labor in Greenway. Kevin Rudd suffered a swing against him but the oft-predicted loss of a Prime Ministerial seat predicted by pollsters never looked likely.
The surprise of the night was the performance of Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party, which exceeded predictions and achieved between 11-12% of the vote in Queensland and looks to have picked up the seat of Fairfax for Palmer himself, a Queensland Senate spot for former footballer Glenn Lazarus and possibly two other spots.
Seats still in doubt include Indi, where Sophie Mirabella is in danger of succumbing to the challenge of independent Cathy McGowan, Eden-Monaro, where Labor frontbencher Mike Kelly’s early lead has been run down by the Liberals’ Peter Hendy, and Labor backbencher John Murphy’s western Sydney seat of Reid.
An upbeat Kevin Rudd conceded defeat before 10pm and said he would not recontest the Labor leadership, declaring it was time for generational change in the party.
While counting for Senate places is still in preliminary stages, Lazarus may be joined by two other Palmer senators and several other independents/minor parties, with obscure parties such as the Liberal Democrats, the Motoring Enthusiasts, the Sports Party and Family First all in the mix to pick up Senate spots.
And after News Corporation’s urging that the the Greens be “destroyed at the ballot box”, they have easily held Melbourne, picked up an additional spot in Victoria, look likely to hang on in South Australia and might save Scott Ludlam in Western Australia and are an outside chance to pick up another spot in NSW. However, they are unlikely to hold the balance of power from July 2014 with such a large crossbench. This will enable Abbott to secure passage of legislation through the Senate, if he’s able to negotiate with such an array of eclectic interests.