Sun, Jul 03, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Australian federal election result too close to call: ABC


Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, left, yesterday stands with his wife, Lucy Turnbull, as he casts his ballot at a polling station in Sydney.

Photo: Bloomberg

Australia’s election was on a knife-edge as of press time last night, with the ruling conservatives struggling to win enough seats to form a majority government, raising the prospect of a hung parliament.

Seventy-six seats are needed to rule outright in the 150-seat House of Representatives, but there was a swing against Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal-National coalition, results showed as vote counting went deep into the night.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC), which is known for calling election results, yesterday said a clear outcome was unlikely.

“I’m prepared to make a prediction. We won’t know who has won tonight,” the Australian Broadcasting Corp’s respected election analyst Antony Green said, with about 4 million postal votes still being sifted through.

Green forecast Bill Shorten’s Labor opposition would not hold more than 70 seats and the coalition could fall short of a majority by one seat, with 75, despite being backed by the nation’s media.

More than four hours after most polling booths closed, the Australian Electoral Commission had Turnbull’s party on 71 seats to 68 for Labor, with crossbenchers — politicians who are independent or from minor parties — winning five.

It could mean a parliament where no side commands a lower house majority, as voters fed up with traditional politicians look for alternatives, meaning crossbenchers are set to play an important role in forming the next Australian government.

“First term governments always, always, have a swing against them. We know that,” Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison said, putting a brave face on the results.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said Turnbull’s leadership was in peril.

“I think the real question is for Malcolm Turnbull — can he remain leader with the loss of so many seats?” she told the Nine Network.

The government went into the election with a large majority of seats.

The vote culminated in a marathon race where economic management became a key issue in the wake of the Brexit verdict.

Former banker Turnbull, 61, was looking to bolster his power after ousting former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott in a Liberal party coup in September last year.

Former union chief Shorten, 49, has been gunning to return Labor to office after it was thumped by the conservatives at the last federal election in 2013.

“What will decide this election is what is in the best interests for working and middle-class Australia,” he said before polling closed in a last-ditch bid to rally undecided voters to his platform of better health, jobs and education.

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