Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told his supporters he is confident he will form a majority government, despite official results failing to deliver a clear winner by the end of the day.
The chance of a hung parliament remains a possibility after the ALP has surged back into contention with swings against the government in Tasmania, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. The Coalition held firm in Victoria and Queensland.
Pundits expected the Turnbull government to win the election comfortably, albeit with a reduced margin.
But as vote counting continued into Sunday morning, the Turnbull government was confronted with a stunning voter backlash.
The Coalition has 70 seats to Labor’s 67. The Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team have one apiece, other parties have three. Eight seats remain in doubt.
The fate of the Turnbull government rested with the pre-poll and postal vote count over the next week.
At his 12.30am speech at Sydney’s Wentworth Hotel Mr Turnbull said that he had “every confidence” of forming majority government after the Australian Electoral Commission completed counting the outstanding 30 per cent of pre-poll and postal votes, expected on Tuesday.
The best Mr Turnbull can hope for is 74 seats, two short of an absolute majority. It would need the support of two independents to govern.
Labor would probably need all four independents if, as pledged during the election campaign, it refused to enter any arrangement with the Greens.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had a fight to retain his seat but eventually claimed victory.
However, Jamie Briggs has lost his seat to Rebekha Sharkie, the first member of the Nick Xenophon to be elected to the House of Representatives. Barnaby Joyce has beaten Tony Windsor for the seat of New England.
Negotiating for power
Greens leader Richard Di Natale insists the minor party will not support a Coalition government in the event of a hung parliament.
Senator Di Natale says the Greens would want to negotiate with the Labor Party and other independents, despite Mr Shorten having previously rejected the prospect of a deal with the Greens.
“(We’d) hope that we could ensure that we have a progressive house of parliament,” he told Sky News.
The Greens insist they remain in the hunt to win two lower house seats in Melbourne, but despite big swings to the minor party they’re lagging in both.
Labor frontbencher Kim Carr said Mr Shorten’s negotiation skills could make him Prime Minister.
A 3.3 per cent swing against the coalition is pointing to a possible minority government, requiring the two major parties to negotiate with crossbenchers.
“I’m looking forward to him being able to call himself Prime Minister of Australia if those discussions go well,” Senator Carr said.
Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership was in peril.
“I think the real question tonight is for Malcolm Turnbull – can he remain leader with the loss of so many seats?” she told the Nine Network.
Mr Shorten had led a “great campaign”, she said.
Liberal MP Sarah Henderson, who is facing a close election in the Victorian seat of Corangamite, said Mr Turnbull “will be a great second-term Prime Minister”.
“He has run a positive campaign,” she said.
Labor’s “outrageous” claims about Medicare caused the most damage to the government, she said.
The nation’s ultimate bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro has swung back to Labor, with Mike Kelly snatching victory from Liberal MP Peter Hendy. Mr Kelly won the seat in 2007 but was ousted by Mr Hendy in 2013. If the Coalition wins the election, it would be the first time Eden-Monaro was not held by the government since 1972.