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Federal election result: Scott Morrison says 'I have always believed in miracles' as Coalition retains power

ABC News logo ABC News 18/05/2019 Henry Belot
Scott Morrison thanked his family, Josh Frydenberg and the entire state of Queensland for the Coalition's victory. © Provided by ABC News Scott Morrison thanked his family, Josh Frydenberg and the entire state of Queensland for the Coalition's victory.

Scott Morrison has defied years of opinion polls and public expectation to lead the Coalition to a shock election victory.

"I have always believed in miracles," the Prime Minister declared as he claimed victory.

The result is a crushing defeat for the Labor Party, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announcing he will step down from the Labor leadership.

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.

"It's always been for those of you watching this at home tonight, for me and for my Government, for all of my team, it's all about you," Mr Morrison told supporters shortly after midnight.

"Tonight is not about me, it's not about even the Liberal Party.

"Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first."

Mr Morrison's victory means he has to put together a new Cabinet, having lost a string of high-profile figures — including Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Kelly O'Dywer, Michael Keenan and former minister Craig Laundy — to retirement.

Liberal senator and party powerbroker Arthur Sinodinos took a veiled swipe at the departing frontbenchers, paying tribute to those to "put their heads down" and delivered a victory.

"We've got a lot of work to do. And we're going to get back to work," Mr Morrison said.

"We're going to get back to work for the Australians that we know go to work every day, who face those struggles and trials every day."

Labor looking for a new leader

Laborwas confident it could win majority government after six years of Coalition government and leadership instability.

But Mr Shorten took to the stage a little after 11:30pm AEST to announce he had conceded the election to Prime Minister Scott Morison and the Coalition.

"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," Mr Shorten said.

"I called Scott Morrison to congratulate him and I wish Jenny and their daughters all the very best.

"Above all, I wished Scott Morrison good fortune and good courage in the service of our great nation. The national interest required no less."

Mr Shorten said it was time for new Labor leadership, with him having held the position for nearly six years.

"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.

"However that task will be one for the next leader of the Labor Party."

Mr Shorten expressed pride at Labor's campaign, and made mention of the Coalition's "arrangements" with Clive Palmer's United Australia Party and One Nation, which he said "have hurt our vote in a lot of places where it mattered most, particularly in Queensland and NSW".

"I am not disappointed for me. I'll always be proud of the courage and the integrity and the vision that our team showed.

"I'm disappointed for people who depend upon Labor but I'm proud that we argued what was right, not what was easy."

Labor Senator Penny Wong described the night as "a very tough result" for the Labor Party.

Senator Wong and senior Labor figures attributed, at least in part, the swing against the party to the United Australia Party and Mr 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," Senator Wong said.

Crossbench changes in both houses

The ABC is projecting new-look crossbenches in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

In the Lower House, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, Rebekah Sharkie and Adam Bandt have all been re-elected.

Independent Helen Haines is expected to succeed retiring independent Cathy McGowan in Indi.

Zali Steggall's defeat of former prime minister Tony Abbott in Warringah sees her joining the crossbench but Kerryn Phelps' future remains unclear.

As of 12:49am AEST, with 68 per cent of the vote counted, Ms Phelps leads 50.4 per cent to 49.6 per cent on a two candidate preferred basis.

In the Senate, the crossbench could pose a problem for the government, with the loss of right-wing minor parties.

The ABC is projecting the Coalition will have 33 senators, Labor 26 and the Greens nine in the 76 seat chamber.

The Coalition will need support from the crossbench to pass its agenda.

That crossbench is likely to include two from Centre Alliance, a re-elected Jacqui Lambie, Cory Bernadi and potentially two One Nation senators.

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 1am, Labor had failed to win a single seat north of the Brisbane River in Queensland, where there were big swings to Coalition MPs.

The Coalition 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 has 'lost the unlosable election'

Former Labor senator Sam Dastyari, who remains close with many in the party, described "panic stations" at Labor Party headquarters as the results came in.

"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 Mr 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."

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