Australian coalition secures majority in election

22nd May, 2019 10:18:04 printer

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has secured a majority government, capping off a shock result in Saturday’s election, reports BBC. With about 80 percent of votes counted, the Liberal-National coalition has now reached the 76 seats needed to control the lower house.

The result has defied long-term polls that had predicted a Labor Party win for the first time in six years. Labor leader Bill Shorten has said he is standing down. He told members on Saturday night: “We’ve argued for the future and our time will come. Count upon that.” There are still four seats yet to be declared.

The Liberal Party is leading in two of those seats - Bass in Tasmania and Macquarie in New South Wales - while Labor has a narrow lead in Cowan, West Australia, and in Lilley in Brisbane. The result represents a comfortable increase from the coalition’s standing prior to the election, where it had fallen into minority government, relying on the support of independents.

On Tuesday, the seat of Chisholm in Victoria was declared for Liberal candidate Gladys Liu, taking the government over the 76-seat threshold. Ms Liu is the first Chinese-Australian ever to be elected to the lower house.

For more than a year, consecutive opinion polls had shown Labor ahead of the government. The view was that the government’s image had been damaged by successive leadership challenges and the chaotic ousting of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year, as well as a string of parliamentary scandals.

Mr Morrison, who had only been leader for nine months, went into Saturday’s vote as the underdog.

He campaigned primarily on economic issues, often doing so alone and painting the election as a choice between himself and Mr Shorten.

Labor campaigned on a promise to “stop the chaos” and introduce major changes to climate and economic policy.

But ultimately that failed to appeal to voters and the conservative coalition romped home, collecting seats from Labor with a national 0.5% swing towards it.

“I’ve always believed in miracles,” Morrison told supporters in his victory speech on Saturday.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott lost his safe seat to an independent candidate, Zali Steggall, ending his 25-year hold on the wealthy Sydney electorate.

However, that was the only real loss for the coalition and it was Labor who suffered the biggest upsets.

The conservatives unexpectedly swept the state of Queensland, where a dozen marginal seats for the House of Representatives were being closely watched.