Australia’s conservatives are celebrating after their leader Tony Abbott was swept into office after six years in opposition.
The outgoing Labor government won 57 seats in parliament compared to 88 for the Liberal-National coalition.
Pledging to act on the economy and immigration, the next prime minister reflected on the change as the results came in.
“For just the seventh time in 60 years the government of Australia has changed. The Coalition has won, 13 seats clearly, with 10 still in play, and I can inform you that the Australian Labor Party’s vote is at the lowest level in more than 100 years,” Tony Abbott told his jubilant supporters.
Under Kevin Rudd, Labor paid the price for its handling of the economy, an unpopular carbon tax and for party infighting: his power struggle with Julia Gillard saw him replace her as PM as late as June.
The party’s overall vote was the worst for nine years and its leader is now giving up.
“There comes a time when you know you’ve given it your all and a time for the party to further renew its leadership for the future. For me, that time is now. So I will not be recontesting the leadership of the parliamentary Labor party,” Rudd said.
Abbott has promised to restrict spending, scrap the carbon tax and stop the flow of refugee boats from Asia.
The centre-right is heralding a new era, but some commentators including a former prime minister say the outcome has more to do with Labor’s unpopularity than enthusiasm for the conservatives.