19 May 2019

Coalition retain power in Australia after defying federal election polls and expectations

2:18 am on 19 May 2019

Scott Morrison has defied years of opinion polls and public expectation to lead the Coalition to a shock election victory, according to the ABC's elections analyst Antony Green.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks to the media outside a polling booth during Australia's general election in Sydney on May 18, 2019.

Liberal Party leader Scott Morrison. Photo: AFP

Mr Green called the result at about 9.30pm on Australia's east coast - about 11.30pm New Zealand time - on Saturday evening.

The expected result is a crushing defeat for the Labor Party, which was confident it could win majority government tonight, after six years of Coalition Government and leadership instability.

At this stage, it is not clear whether the Coalition will govern in majority or need to rely on a partnership of independent MPs in a minority government.

"We can't see an alternative to a Morrison Government," Mr Green said.

"We're certainly seeing enough numbers to say that the Coalition will end up with more seats than Labor."

Speaking after the victory, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said "I've always believed in miracles ... how good is Australia, and how good are Australians."

He spoke of the "quiet Australians who have won a great victory tonight", as those gathered chanted "Scomo, Scomo, Scomo".

Mr Morrison thanked his fellow MPs who had victories on Saturday evening in their respective electorates.

Senior Labor figures have already attributed, at least in part, the swing against the party to the United Australia Party and Clive Palmer's big investment in campaign advertising.

"I think we will need to think about what that means for our country, if there are a substantial number of seats that end up going to a particular political party because there is a deal with a man like Mr Palmer or Pauline Hanson," Labor Senator Penny Wong said.

Supporters of opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten watch the giant screens showing the results of Australia's general election in Melboune on May 18, 2019.

Supporters of opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten react to the election results. Photo: AFP

Addressing his party, Bill Shorten conceded that Labor wouldn't be able to form a government.

"And without wanting to hold out any false hope, while there are still millions of votes to count and important seats yet to be finalised, it is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government."

"This has been a tough campaign. Toxic at times. But now that the contest is over, all of us have a responsibility to respect the result, respect the wishes of the Australian people and to bring our nation together."

He said he wouldn't be contesting the Labor Party's next leadership ballot.

"I want to say beyond this room to Australians who supported Labor: I know that you're all hurting and I am too."'

Result surprises pollsters, punters and politicians

For more than 12 months, opinion polls have predicted a Labor victory and even senior Liberal strategists were not brave enough to predict a Coalition victory.

Bookmakers had already paid out millions of dollars of money, confident that a Labor government would be elected comfortably.

As of 9:30pm, Labor failed to win a single seat north of the Brisbane River in Queensland, where there were big swings to Coalition MPs.

The Coalition has also performed better than expected in Tasmania, where it is likely to pick up Bass and Braddon.

In Queensland, there was a 12 per cent swing to Nationals MP Michelle Landry in the ultra-marginal seat of Capricornia.

Her colleague George Christensen was also re-elected with an 11 per cent swing, despite Labor running a hard campaign against him and dubbing him "the member for Manilla".

Tony Abbott, who lost his seat of Warringah tonight, said Scott Morrison would now "enter the Liberal pantheon forever".

Labor may have 'lost the unlosable election'

Australia's opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Bill Shorten. Photo: AFP

Former Labor senator Sam Dastyari, who remains close with many in the party, described "panic stations" at Labor Party headquarters on Saturday evening.

"I think the Labor Party looks as if it may have lost the unlosable election," he said.

Former Liberal prime minister John Howard said Australia rejected Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's "envy-driven politics".

"I did believe very strongly that Bill Shorten had overplayed his hand on the class warfare stuff," Mr Howard said.

"Australians believe in egalitarianism, they reject the politics of class warfare.

"All this stuff about the big end of town and the envy-driven politics of the Labor Party have done them in big time."

Speculation was rife on Saturday evening that Mr Shorten would be replaced as leader, and names of those to potentially replace him were already being discussed.

You can look back over RNZ's live coverage of election night here.

- ABC with RNZ

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