03 July 2016
by Phillip Coorey
Malcolm Turnbull clings to power
The nation has been plunged into uncertainty after Labor cut a swathe through NSW, Tasmania and beyond and the Nick Xenophon Team grabbed a seat in South Australia.
Australia will have either a hung Parliament or a government with a severely-reduced majority.
With many seats - and the final result - too close to call, it appears Labor will struggle to form government in its own right.
But the Turnbull government will also struggle to keep its absolute majority after losing at least 11 seats and possibly six more.
Malcolm Turnbull has lost many of his supporters in the rout and his leadership cannot be considered safe.
If the government survives, its numbers wil be so low it will not have the numbers in a joint sitting of Parliament to pass the two industrial relations bills that triggered the double dissolution election.
Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt demanded the Prime Minister resign and make way for Tony Abbott.
"The man should resign, he's got no authority, he's trashed the brand, he's got no mandate for change".
Alan Jones called this "absolute nonsense" and said Mr Turnbull should stay.
Conversely, Bill Shorten's leadership looks very safe with an anticipated challenge by Anthony Albanese ruled out.
"The Labor Party is back,"
Mr Shorten told supporters.
He told Mr Turnbull that even if the Coalition prevailed, its mandate, including its budget measures, was dead.
"Whatever happens next week, Mr Turnbull will never be able to claim that the people of Australia have adopted his ideological agenda. He will never again be able to promise the stability which he has completely failed to deliver tonight," he said.
"Mr Turnbull's economic program, such as it was, has been rejected by the people of Australia."
The Senate was also as unwieldy as expected, Pauline Hanson won her spot and maybe one other, Derryn Hinch looks like winning a Victorian Senate spot and the NXT had picked up at least three senators in SA.
By late Saturday night, as recriminations against Mr Turnbull and his supporters were beginning, the proposed changes to superannuation, which were blamed for contributing to the bad result, were in big trouble with conservatives saying they would be either scrapped or amended.
The Coalition began the election holding 90 of the 150 seats. A minimum 76 are needed to govern alone.
After a 3.6 percentage point primary swing against the Coalition nationally and with almost two thirds of the vote counted, the Coalition was holding 73 seats and Labor, which began on 55 seats, was holding 68 seats.
The Victorian government's dispute with the Country Fire Authority resulted in Labor failing to win a seat in the state, and may even cost it the seat of Chisholm, which could cost it government. There are likely to be severe recriminations against Labor Premier Daniel Andrews.
The Greens had a bad night, losing at least one Senator and, as of the latest count, had failed to grab another lower House seat other than holding on to Melbourne.
The blue-ribbon Adelaide Hills seat of Mayo, once held by Alexander Downer, fell to the NXT's Rebekha Sharkie who defeated Liberal Jamie Briggs.
In NSW, Labor won from the Coalition the seats of Eden-Monaro, Barton, Gilmore, Macarthur, Dobell, Macquarie. The Liberals lost all its three seats in Tasmania - bass, Braddon and Lyons.
It lost Burt in Western Australia and Solomon in the Northern Territory. In Queensland, the seats of Longman and Herbert appear lost to Labor, as does Hindmarsh in SA.
Conservative Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi used Twitter to taunt pollster and chief strategist Mark Textor.
"Hey Tex, I'm thinking that conservatives actually do matter," he said.
Eric Abetz cited superannuation and "Mediscare".
"I will for one will be advocating we consider aspects of it," he said of the super changes that were in the budget.
Tony Abbott's former chief of staff Peta Credlin cited the budget changes to superannuation as a cause.
She said even though the changes targeted the well off, they concerned everyone and she said they were as good as dead because they would not be approved by the Coalition party room.
But deputy leader Julie Bishop, who may now face a challenge for her position from Peter Dutton, said the result was to be expected.
"We knew after 2013 (thrashing of Labor) there would be a correction in any event. This returns to a more normal federal election which is very close."
Ms Bishop also attributed the swing to Labor's "monstrous lie" on Medicare.
In other developments, Barnaby Joyce fended off a challenge to his seat of New England from Tony Windsor and Liberal Sophie Mirabella's career s over after she failed to take back the seat of Indi from independent Cathy McGowan.