Voters leave Australia hanging
Australia's political future hangs in the balance as a big swing against Labor on the eastern seaboard looks set to make the Coalition the largest bloc in the first hung parliament since World War II.
Labor MPs have been swept aside by swings of more than 9 per cent against them in former prime minister Kevin Rudd's home state of Queensland, and of more than 6 per cent in New South Wales.
ABC election analyst Antony Green now says he expects the Coalition to have 73 seats in the House of Representatives, with Labor on 72, four independents, and one Green.
And recriminations against Labor's campaign have already begun, with ousted Bennelong MP Maxine McKew taking aim at the party's decision to ditch Kevin Rudd only two months ago.
With more than half the votes counted Labor is set to lose at least 16 seats and gain only two, leaving it unable to muster the 76 seats required for an overall majority.
The swing against Labor is smaller in South Australia and Victoria, meaning the Coalition is also unlikely to be able to muster an outright majority.
All eyes are now turning to Western Australia, where a swing of 5 per cent against the ALP could deliver more bad news for Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Treasurer Wayne Swan says it is too early to speculate about a hung parliament.
"I can't speculate about that tonight. I don't know if that's going to eventuate or not. I think we're just going to have to wait," he said.
"I think there are a lot of very close seats out there. I think we've got to wait a few days before we go through those results."
McKew takes aim
But Ms McKew, who lost her seat to Liberal candidate and former tennis star John Alexander and was handpicked to run in Bennelong in 2007 by Kevin Rudd, was more forthcoming.
She lost no time in pointing to his downfall as a factor in Labor's political humiliation.
"Clearly you cannot have the removal of a Labor leader, and a prime minister, and then two months later have an election and not have that play into the outcome," she said.
Ms McKew said federal Labor's election campaign left a lot to be desired.
"There are some very big questions for the Labor Party given what has happened tonight," she said.
"We shouldn't be on a knife-edge tonight, and we shouldn't be losing colleagues all over the country."
Ms McKew said that in 2007 the party had run a professional, targeted, clear campaign and should have made more of its economic credentials this time around.
And she conceded that scepticism about the promised $2.6 billion Epping to Parramatta rail link had also been difficult to overcome.
Liberal Senator Nick Minchin said a hung Parliament was "looking the most likely option at this point".
Senator Minchin said he could not find the 76 seats the Coalition would need for outright victory.
A hung parliament would be the first in Australia since 1940, when Robert Menzies' United Australia Party governed with the help of the Country Party and two independents.
Among the big winners on the night was the Greens' Adam Bandt, who snatched the inner city seat of Melbourne from Labor following outgoing finance minister Lindsay Tanner's decision to retire.
As well as Melbourne and Bennelong, Labor was expected to lose Gilmore, Macarthur, Macquarie, Bonner, Brisbane, Dawson, Denison, Dickson, Flynn, Forde, Herbert, Leichhardt and Longman to the Coalition and the Northern Territory seat of Solomon to the Country Liberal Party.
The ALP was also poised to lose the Tasmanian seat of Denison to independent Andrew Wilkie.
Tasmanian Labor Senator Nick Sherry said it was too early to say what kind of deals may be done with independent candidates.
"I think it would be a bit presumptive to assume any of the independents - what their position might be," he said. "There is appeal to Labor in some of these independents."
Twenty-year-old Wyatt Roy was set to become Australia's youngest MP, taking the south-east Queensland seat of Longman for the LNP.
Labor's Mike Kelly looked set to hang on to Eden-Monaro, the seat which has traditionally fallen to the party which will form government, while independent Warren Entsch, who retired in 2007, snatched his old northern Queensland seat of Leichhardt back from the ALP.
Liberal frontbencher Peter Dutton, who held on to his seat of Dickson, said he was still waiting to see what happened in marginal seats before speculating on how the Liberals would deal with a hung parliament.
"It's quite an incredible night," he said.
"We'll have to see in those dozen or so marginal seats what happens. I think Tony Abbott certainly deserves to be victorious tonight, but we'll wait and see."
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The Victorian seat of Dunkley has gone from 'in doubt' to a Liberal retain.
Results for your electorate
State of the Parties
76 seats required for victory
Updated Tue Aug 24 03:39PM
Last updated Tue Aug 24 03:39PM
|Time||Count %||Electorate||Held By||Margin||2PP %||Swing||Predict|
|14:12||78.2||La Trobe||L/NP||0.5||51.4||1.9% to ALP||ALP GAIN|
|15:45||76.4||McEwen||L/NP||0.0||55.6||5.6% to ALP||ALP GAIN|
|14:12||81.4||Solomon||ALP||0.2||52.6||2.8% to CLP||CLP GAIN|
|15:45||70.7||Melbourne||ALP||4.7||55.7||10.4% to GRN||GRN GAIN|
|15:45||78.1||Bennelong||ALP||1.4||53.5||4.9% to LIB||LIB GAIN|
|15:35||82.7||Gilmore *||ALP||0.4||54.9||5.4% to LIB||LIB WIN|
|15:45||83.3||Macarthur *||ALP||0.5||53.1||3.6% to LIB||LIB WIN|
|13:05||82.9||Macquarie||ALP||0.3||50.9||1.2% to LIB||LIB GAIN|
|15:45||74.9||Swan *||ALP||0.3||52.2||2.5% to LIB||LIB WIN|
|15:19||75.3||Bonner||ALP||4.5||52.7||7.2% to LNP||LNP GAIN|
|13:05||71.0||Brisbane||ALP||4.6||50.6||5.2% to LNP||LNP GAIN|
|19:19||76.7||Dawson||ALP||2.6||52.1||4.7% to LNP||LNP GAIN|
|16:57||78.5||Dickson *||ALP||0.8||54.7||5.4% to LNP||LNP WIN|
|13:05||73.9||Flynn||ALP||2.2||51.6||3.8% to LNP||LNP GAIN|
|21:23||75.2||Forde||ALP||3.4||51.5||4.8% to LNP||LNP GAIN|
|15:45||81.1||Herbert *||ALP||0.0||52.1||2.2% to LNP||LNP WIN|
|18:41||79.7||Leichhardt||ALP||4.1||54.1||8.2% to LNP||LNP GAIN|
|15:04||78.9||Longman||ALP||1.9||52.0||3.9% to LNP||LNP GAIN|
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