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Australia election 2019

A closer look at Australia elections
04:59

What we're covering here

  • Australia votes: Labor leader Bill Shorten has conceded defeat after an unexpected swing to the center-right Liberal National coalition government.
  • What we know: Surveys taken before the vote indicated a tight race with a slight advantage to the center-left Labor party, but results showed a different story.
  • “Unlosable” election lost: A swing towards the Liberal Coalition government in major states, especially Queensland, dashed Labor’s hopes of forming government.
30 Posts

Our live coverage of the Australian election has ended after an extraordinary night in which Prime Minister Scott Morrison was re-elected in a shock victory. Read more about what happened here.

Morrison thanks the "quiet Australians" for shock win

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, flanked by his wife Jenny Morrison and daughters Lily Morrison and Abbey Morrison, delivers his victory speech in Sydney on Saturday.

Flanked by his wife and daughters, Prime Minister Morrison dedicated his surprise victory to the “quiet Australians.”

“It’s Australians who have worked hard, started a business, started a family, bought a home,” he said to loud cheers.

“These are the quiet Australians who have won a great victory tonight.”

Morrison pledged to “get back to work” as soon as possible. “We are an amazing country of amazing people. God bless Australia.”

PM Morrison claims victory in "miracle" upset

Scott Morrison supporters celebrate at the coalition’s election party in Sydney on May 18.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has claimed victory in the 2019 election, with results showing the Liberal National coalition is on track to be returned to government.

“I have always believed in miracles,” he told jubilant supporters in Sydney. “And tonight we’ve been delivered another one.”

It was a stunning turnaround after every opinion poll over the campaign pointed to a Labor victory. Analysts are now saying Labor lost an “unlosable” election.

Shorten concedes after shock loss

Bill Shorten, with his wife Chloe Shorten, concedes defeat in Melbourne on Saturday.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has called Prime Minister Scott Morrison to concede defeat.

It has been a devastating night for Shorten, who was widely predicted to be giving a victory speech.

“I know that you’re all hurting, and I am too. And without wanting to hold out any false hope, while there are still millions of votes to count … it is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government,” Shorten said, speaking to party supporters in Melbourne.

“I’m proud that we argued what was right, not what was easy … Politics should be the battle of ideas.”

Shorten announced he would not contest the next Labor leadership ballot after the election. Deputy Tanya Plibersek is among the top candidates to be his successor.

Far-right politician Fraser Anning is gone

Senator Fraser Anning in the Senate at Parliament House, Canberra.

The Queensland senator who infamously blamed Muslim immigration for the New Zealand terrorist attacks in March is out, experts predict.

ABC analyst Antony Green said far-right senator Fraser Anning would go “back to where he came from.”

Anning formed his own party – called Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party – and ran candidates in seats across the country.

But so far it has failed to win more than 0.6% of the national vote.

The government ditched its leader twice ... but maybe voters just don't care?

Then-treasurer Scott Morrison is congratulated by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after delivering the budget in the House of Representatives in 2017.

Just eight months ago, the Liberal National coalition government was in chaos.

It plunged in the polls after ditching incumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for his treasurer Scott Morrison, the latest example of Australia’s leadership merry-go-round.

With an election on the horizon, the situation seemed hopeless. Yet Morrison is now likely to win, dashing questions over whether removing Turnbull was actually the right call.

Speaking to CNN affiliate Sky News, former Labor communications minister Stephen Conroy said that while Australia’s inability to keep a leader might be an international joke, voters don’t seem to mind.

“Clearly the Australian people do not care about rotating prime ministers,” he said.

Stunned Labor refuses to concede

A Labor supporter reacts at a function in Melbourne on Saturday.

CNN affiliate Sky News has called the election for the Liberal National coalition – but Labor is refusing to concede.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek and shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese said they would wait to see the vote count over the coming days.

“I don’t think you can call the election as done,” Plibersek said on the ABC. “I think we might wait for voters’ ballot papers to be counted before we do that.”

Plibersek blamed an “extremely negative” campaign by the coalition, saying Labor policies had been misrepresented. “Bill (Shorten) ran a fantastic campaign,” he said.

Morrison is magnificent, says former PM John Howard

Former Australia leader John Howard was full of praise for Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Liberal Party function in Sydney on Saturday night.

“It’s very clear that Scott Morrison has waged an incredibly successful campaign,” Howard told CNN affiliate Seven News, describing the incumbent leader as “magnificent.”

“He’s waged a relentless campaign, he’s been direct, he’s been clear, he’s been cogent and he’s argued the case incredibly well.”

Howard is Australia’s second-longest serving prime minister, leading the country between 1996 and 2007.

According to the Australian Electoral Commission, the Liberal National coalition is predicted to win 74 seats – just short of the 76 needed to form a majority.

Labor may have lost "unlosable" election

Shattered Labor supporters watch a broadcast of the vote count.

Journalists at Labor’s election party in Melbourne are describing the mood as “sombre.”

Just hours earlier on Saturday, the party faithful were looking at an exit poll stating they would win government with 52% of the vote.

Now analysts say they are unlikely to even be able to form minority government, with the Liberal National coalition in a good position to be returned.

“It feels like they’re shell-shocked, they thought they were going to win, very optimistic at the start of the night and now silence,” CNN-affiliate Sky News journalist Kieran Gilbert said.

“This was the unlosable election for the Labor Party, that’s how this was considered,” ABC’s Patricia Karvelas said from the Melbourne event.

Heading back to hung parliament?

Before 2010, Australia hadn’t had a minority government in decades. Now it could end up with its third in nine years.

Analysts say that despite initially being expected to win up to 80 seats, the Labor party appears unlikely to even clinch the 76 required to form majority government.

“It’s very hard to see how Labor can possibly reach government on the numbers we’re seeing,” ABC analyst Antony Green said.

On the other hand, swings to the right-wing One Nation party and billionaire Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party are putting the governing Liberal National coalition in a solid position.

“Unless pre polls swing it back Labor’s way, they’ll struggle to get to 76. More likely Coalition minority or even at a pinch, majority,” long-time analyst Barrie Cassidy tweeted.

First results hint at Labor shock

With about 3.6 million votes counted, the governing Liberal National coalition has almost 50% of the vote and is projected to have clinched about 63 seats.

Labor is projected to have claimed about 61 seats so far, according to the Australian Electoral Commission – well below where the party was hoping to be.

There are 151 seats in the House of Representatives, and whoever has a majority of seats will win government. That magic number is 76.

Still a long way to go.

Former PM Abbott loses seat

Cheers echoed around Labor’s election party on Saturday night local time amid reports that former Prime Minister Tony Abbott had lost the Sydney seat of Warringah.

Abbott was leader from 2013 to 2015 before losing his job in an intra-party coup led by long-time rival Malcolm Turnbull.

CNN affiliate Sky News and the ABC said Abbott was gone after a big swing to former Olympian Zali Steggall.

Abbott is expected to make a concession speech later in the night.

Early count reverses pre-election opinion polls

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with former deputy Julie Bishop at a Liberal party rally in the Perth seat of Swan on May 13.

Voting has closed in Western Australia and with more than two million ballots counted, the results look almost the reverse of pre-election opinion polls.

In the final Newspoll of the election, the center-left Labor party was ahead 51.5%. Yet it is currently down 49.5%.

“There are some very strange results,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale told the ABC.

A swing towards the center-right Liberal National coalition in Queensland took many commentators by surprise.

“I didn’t think the Coalition would be this close. The Liberals could still win this,” Andrew Bolt said on CNN affiliate Sky News.

Is former Prime Minister Tony Abbott about to get kicked out?

Warringah candidates Tony Abbott and Zali Steggall shake hands at the beginning of a debate on May 2, 2019 in Sydney.

Things are looking grim for one big-name candidate.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who stayed in parliament after losing the top job in 2015, has faced a concerted campaign from former Olympian Zali Steggall.

Steggall pounced on Abbott’s opposition to action on climate change – and it appears to be having an effect.

With about a quarter of the vote counted in the Sydney seat of Warringah, Abbott faces a 13% swing against him.

Early results in as parties play down expectations

The Liberal National coalition is leading in six seats with 150,000 votes counted by the Australian Electoral Commission.

However Labor and Liberal politicians aren’t getting excited – yet. Early exit polls have Labor ahead 52-48, although Penny Wong told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) the party wasn’t taking anything for granted.

“I think we can be reasonably optimistic of winning the popular vote, the question is whether that translates to sufficient seats,” the Labor senator said.

Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Michael McCormack told the ABC they’d run a good campaign. “Let’s see how the result ends up,” he added.

Six leaders in 10 years?

If Bill Shorten wins tonight, he will be Australia’s 31st Prime Minister – and the sixth person to hold the job in a decade.

The tumult began when Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was thrown out by his own party in 2010 and replaced by deputy Julia Gillard.

Rudd had his revenge three years later, ousting Gillard. But he lasted less than three months in office before losing the 2013 election to Liberal leader Tony Abbott.

Abbott’s victory raised hopes of an end to the instability. But he was replaced by Malcolm Turnbull in 2015 in an internal party election – and Turnbull himself lost out to Scott Morrison in 2018.

Both Morrison and Shorten have said that if they win the election, the leadership merry-go-round will end. But voters remain skeptical.

Voting closes in Australia's east as first exit poll points to slim Labor win

Opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten and his wife Chloe cast their votes in Melbourne on Saturday.

Voting has ended on Australia’s east coast and counting has begun, with the first results expected in the coming hours.

Polls are still open for up to two more hours in the rest of the country but it is the large eastern states of Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales which will attract the most attention.

The first exit poll has already been released and points to a narrow victory by the center-left Labor party.

A Galaxy exit poll put Labor at 52% of the vote compared to 48% for the Liberal National coalition, according to Nine News.

Morrison shoots to become Liberal legend

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison drinks a beer the night before the federal election as he visits Nowra, Australia, on May 17.

In just six years in government, the center-right Liberal National coalition government has had three different leaders – Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.

For years it has lagged behind the Labor party in the polls, sometimes by double digits.

But Morrison has narrowed the gap over this five-week campaign and could be within reach of a historic victory, despite having only been in the job eight months.

Morrison ran on a campaign of tax cuts, the economy and warning voters against Labor’s plans to remake Australia.

It could work. The final poll of the election only had Morrison down by 48.5% to Labor’s 51.5%.

“Morrison’s single-minded ded­i­cation to the job at hand and single­-handed execution of it has succeeded in dragging the government back from oblivion,” Australian columnist Nikki Savva wrote on May 16.

PM Morrison: My wife is a love machine

Labor leader Bill Shorten isn’t the only one promoting his wife ahead of today’s election.

Speaking to local media, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his partner Jen had the “biggest heart of anyone I know.”

Morrison then laughed as he described her as a “love machine.”

“Okay, I don’t know whether we should be reporting that,” Jen said. “I’m sure that’ll take off online,” her husband laughed.

"Vote 1 Chloe Shorten's husband"

Labor Leader Bill Shorten has his morning run on May 18, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. 

Before polls opened on Saturday, Labor’s Bill Shorten took his daily run through Melbourne’s CBD in a T-shirt which said “Vote 1 Chloe Shorten’s husband.”

It was partly a nod to his party’s feminist credentials – under Labor, Australia will have a female deputy prime minister and female foreign minister.

But Shorten’s wife Chloe, the daughter of a former Australian governor-general, has been described as a “campaign-trail asset” for the Labor leader, who is not generally seen as particularly likable.

If you’ve never heard of Shorten before, you’re not alone. Read more about the possible leader of Australia here.

Land of the never-ending ballot paper

Every Australian election, a huge number of minor parties run for seats in the upper house, known as the Senate.

If you get in, it’s a great gig. Six-year terms, good salary and the Senate only sits less than two months a year.

That’s why so many bizarre minor parties are running for the chance in 2019, including Love Australia or Leave party, Yellow Vest Australia party and the Pirate Party Australia to name a few..

All these small parties leave ballot papers several feet long – frustrating voters as they try to tick all the boxes.

Will climate change swing the vote?

Climate change activists calling for action on global warming outside a polling station in the Liberal-held Sydney seat of Warringah on May 18, 20.

Australia has experienced some of the worst effects of climate change in recent few years, from deadly bush fires to the destruction of natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef.

Concern about climate change is now at a 10-year high among Australians, with 64% believing it should be a top priority for the government, according to an Ipsos poll released in April.

The Labor party is promising to cut Australia’s carbon emissions by 45% on 2005 levels, compared to the government’s minimum pledge of 26%.

Read the article here.

What would Hawkie do? Former PM's shadow looms large over vote

Bob Hawke pours a beer at the launch of Hawke's Lager at The Clock Hotel on April 6, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.

Less than 48 hours before polls opened, one of Australia’s longest-serving and best-loved prime ministers passed away.

Bob “Hawkie” Hawke was a joker, beer drinker and reformist Labor Prime Minister, and long after leaving office in 1991 he was still much admired by Australians.

It’s hard to tell whether Hawke’s death will affect the election but both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor’s Bill Shorten have lavished praise on the former leader.

Long-time political observer Philip Adams took to Twitter to retell a joke Hawke once made about Australians’ feelings towards their politicians.

“There are two pieces of road kill on the Hume Highway – one’s a dead wallaby and the other’s a dead politician. What’s the difference? There are skid marks before the wallaby.”

Read our obituary here.

Australia's next foreign minister could be a gay, Asian woman

Penny Wong pictured at a 2019 Federal Election Volunteer Rally in Burwood on April 14 in Sydney, Australia.

Traditionally, Australia’s parliament has mostly been made up of white men.

But in recent years the nation’s politicians have begun to better reflect its diverse population. Nowhere is this more evident than in the woman who could be Australia’s next top diplomat.

Malaysian-born senator Penny Wong is the highest-ranking gay politician in parliament.

In a recent speech in Sydney, Wong said her elevation to the role of foreign minister if Labor was elected would say a lot about the country Australia has become.

“Narratives matter, as do perceptions. There are times when Australia’s past attitudes on race can be evoked in ways which are neither accurate nor helpful,” she said.

Read more about her story here.

Party volunteer stabbed with corkscrew on last day of campaigning

Australian elections are mostly non-violent, which made a bizarre assault on the last day of campaigning all the more unusual.

In the Sydney seat of Warringah, where there has been a fierce campaign to remove former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a campaign volunteer was stabbed in the stomach with a corkscrew late Friday.

The 31-year-old volunteer was putting up campaign material for Abbott when he was approached by a man yelling abuse.

The volunteer was fine and a 62-year-old man was arrested later that night. Abbott told local media the attack was “unfortunate.”

The real hero of Australian elections? The democracy sausage

If you’ve never voted in Australia, you might be confused why #democracysausage is trending on Twitter.

Every election day, at polling stations across the country as well as some Australian embassies around the world, voters gobble sausage sandwiches while casting their ballot.

It’s become such an iconic part of voting in Australia that the sandwich is even featured in an emoji on the #ausvotes Twitter hashtag.

Political historian Judith Brett told CNN that the food trend started as cake stalls and fundraising opportunities in the 1930s. But now it’s a symbol of Australian democracy.

Winner likely to be known Saturday night

A United Australia Party volunteer at Kirwan State High School in Townsville, Queensland, on Saturday.

Australia’s next government will likely be declared just hours after polls close at 6 p.m. local time on Saturday.

Given the country’s relatively small population compared to democratic juggernauts like Indonesia and India, Australia’s elections are usually decided on the same day votes are cast.

There have been exceptions though.

In 2016, after voters turned on then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government, the race came down to just a few seats, resulting in days of uncertainty.

Six years earlier, Labor leader Julia Gillard barely scrapped back into government after negotiating for weeks with a group of independent politicians.

Neither Morrison nor Shorten will fancy a repeat of those cliffhangers tonight.

How is a winner decided?

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivers the budget in the House of Representatives on April 02, 2019 in Canberra, Australia.

For Morrison and Shorten, the magic number to reach is 76.

Australia has two houses of parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The Senate acts as a check on power for the government. But in terms of actually deciding who the government is, all the power is in the House of Representatives.

There are 151 seats in the House, and whoever has a majority of seats will win government. That number is 76.

Both the Liberal National coalition and the Labor party are already very close to that number. But given the surging vote for third-party candidates at the last two elections, there’s always a possibility of neither hitting the target.

In which case, it will be a long night for both leaders.

Who will be Australia's next Prime Minister?

Neither incumbent Scott Morrison nor challenger Bill Shorten are particularly well known outside Australia.

Morrison, a former treasurer and Tourism Australia director, has only been the country’s Prime Minister for less than eight months after toppling Malcolm Turnbull in a closed-door leadership ballot .

His Liberal National government is promising tax cuts and economic stability if re-elected – although convincing voters has been an uphill battle.

It is opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten’s second attempt at Australia’s top job. A former top union official, Shorten has also struggled to connect with voters over the past six years.

Shorten has pledged more action on climate change and greater spending on health and education services, paid for by reversing tax cuts on top earners.

Both men have promised to serve a full three-year term if they win. But in Australia, you never know.

Australians head to the polls in close election

People vote at Burleigh Heads R.S.L Hall on May 18, 2019 in the Gold Coast, Australia

About 10 million people are voting across Australia today in a tight poll which could result in a change of government to the center-left Labor party.

Labor leader Bill Shorten cast his ballot in Melbourne early on Saturday, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison is still out on the campaign trail and is expected to vote in Sydney later.

But there have been signs of strong dissatisfaction towards both parties during the campaign. A record 4.7 million voters cast their ballot before election day, with some saying they just wanted to get it over with.

“Basically both parties are self-absorbed, scoring points on each other, inside the party or between parties, so basically all the big issues have just been left adrift,” former Liberal Party leader John Hewson told CNN.

“(Voters) are so cynical and they’ve had enough.”

GO DEEPER

Australians aren't really happy with either of their choices for leader, but they have to vote anyway
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GO DEEPER

Australians aren't really happy with either of their choices for leader, but they have to vote anyway
Australia may elect its seventh leader in just over a decade as election called
Australia's new foreign minister could be a gay, Asian woman
Australian politicians are targeting voters on WeChat. But fake content could end up costing them