As of 8 a.m. Monday, the ruling Coalition of Malcolm Turnbull held 69 seats, the opposition Labor Party had 71 seats and independents and the Greens Party had five seats combined. A further seven seats are in the balance. Final results are expected on Tuesday, said the Australian Electoral Commission in a statement.
Official electoral data for the House of Representatives showed a 3.2 percent swing away from the Coalition government, with almost 10 million votes counted. It was unclear if the Coalition would win enough seats to form a government without an alliance with small parties and independents.
“It is a very, very close count,” Turnbull told the party faithful at Coalition headquarters in Sydney, “I can report that based on the advice I have from the party officials, we can have every confidence that we will form a Coalition majority government in the next parliament.”
Meanwhile, opposition Labor leader, Bill Shorten said his opponent had lost the people’s mandate for his agenda.
“Friends, we will not know the outcome of this election tonight, indeed, we may not know it for some days to come,” he told supporters in Melbourne just before midnight.
The Greens Party looked to be polling strongly, with Adam Bandt likely to retain his seat in Melbourne. Alex Bhathal was in a tight battle in the Victorian seat of Batman.
The seat of Barton, New South Wales looks to have made history by electing Linda Burney from the Labor Party as the first ever Indigenous woman to the lower house.
Turnbull took a gamble by calling an election for both the upper and lower houses in an attempt to gain more control of the parliament hoping to the smaller parties and independents from the upper house.
The Labor Party needs a four percent uniform swing to win enough seats to form a government. Seventy-six lower house seats will need to be won to form a government.
Just before voting started the majority of polls had the Coalition with a narrow lead over the Labor Party.
Exit polls revealed that health, the economy and marriage equality were the most talked about issues on election day.
In the election campaign, the Labor Party claimed that the Coalition will erode Australia’s universal health system, leading to higher costs and longer waiting lists.
The Coalition, in response, has argued the Labor party is inexperienced and ill-equipped to manage Australia’s economy.
Both have pledged to invest in restoring the Great Barrier Reef, one-third of which has destroyed by mass bleaching.
But many voters are disillusioned with the rhetoric of the major parties. Independence parties, including the Greens, are expected to win a significant number of seats, particularly in the Senate where they can potentially hold a balance of power.
Given voting is compulsory in Australia, those who object to the political process or candidates often cast a donkey vote, meaning each box on the ballot is numbered in the order that the candidates appear.