Anthony Albanese will be Australia’s next prime minister, with the Coalition bleeding a wave of seats to lose its narrow majority.
But results from Western Australia appear set to push Labor into a position where it might even be able to seize an outright majority in parliament.
There is a great deal of the vote to count yet, but on current projections, Scott Morrison’s government will be forced out of office.
An emotional Albanese claimed victory in a rousing speech at Labor headquarters in Sydney, saying Australians had voted for change.
“I am humbled by this victory. And I am honoured to be given the opportunity to serve as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia,” he said.
“My fellow Australians, it says a lot about our great country that the son of a single mother who was on a disability pension, who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown, can stand before you tonight as Australia’s prime minister.”
Albanese laid out his incoming government’s goals, including improving childcare and aged care, ending the “climate wars”, developing renewable energy, and putting in place a national anti-corruption commission.
“No matter how you voted today, the government I lead will respect every one of you, every day,” he said.
“And together we can embrace the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“We can answer its patient, gracious call for a voice enshrined in our Constitution.
“Because all of us ought to be proud that amongst our great multicultural society we count the oldest living continuous culture in the world.”
Albanese and Senate leader Penny Wong will travel to a Quad meeting on Monday, with the leaders of the US, Japan and India.
He and Wong, along with Labor deputy leader Richard Marles and Senator Katy Gallagher, will be sworn in before then.
Morrison concedes, quits as Liberal leader
“In this country, at a time like this when we look around the world, and in particular when we see those in the Ukraine fighting for their very freedom and liberty, I think on a night like tonight we can reflect on the greatness of our democracy,” Morrison said.
He said he would be standing down as Liberal leader, but would continue to serve as Cook MP.
“We have been a strong government. We have been a good government. Australia is stronger as a result of our efforts over these last three terms,” Morrison said.
WA to hold key to possible Labor majority
It is yet to be seen whether Labor will form a majority or minority government.
Earlier in the night it became all but certain the Coalition would be unable to form majority government.
“The swing is on in Western Australia, it is large and everywhere,” Nine politics editor Chris Uhlmann said.
“We’re seeing in Western Australia what we saw in the Western Australian election where the board was scrubbed of the Liberal Party.”
The single biggest issue in this election was Scott Morrison himself, Bill Shorten has said.
“I’ve got no doubt the single biggest issue in this election, in my opinion, was Scott Morrison,” Shorten said.
“It was a referendum on Scott Morrison.”
Liberal frontbencher Jane Hume poured some cold water on Labor’s apparent victory.
“It is extraordinary to think a party could govern after they’ve had 2.5 per cent swing against them and they’ve got a primary vote of 31 per cent,” she said.
Former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop said victories by the so-called teals in seats like Wentworth and Kooyong would lead to “so much soul searching” inside the Liberal Party.
The teal independents had been “absolutely focused” on environmental action, climate change and political integrity, Bishop mused.
Dutton, meanwhile, is in a close race for the Queensland seat of Dickson, but holds a widening lead over Labor’s Ali France.
The Greens have picked up the Brisbane seat of Griffith, once held by former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd.