Scott Morrison has defied years of opinion polls and public expectation to lead the Coalition to a shock election victory.
“It’s always been for those of you watching this at home tonight, for me and for my Government, for all of my team, it’s all about you,” Mr Morrison told supporters shortly after midnight.
“Tonight is not about me, it’s not about even the Liberal Party.
“Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first.”
Mr Morrison’s victory means he has to put together a new Cabinet, having lost a string of high-profile figures — including Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Kelly O’Dywer, Michael Keenan and former minister Craig Laundy — to retirement.
Liberal senator and party powerbroker Arthur Sinodinos took a veiled swipe at the departing frontbenchers, paying tribute to those to “put their heads down” and delivered a victory.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. And we’re going to get back to work,” Mr Morrison said.
“We’re going to get back to work for the Australians that we know go to work every day, who face those struggles and trials every day.”
Labor looking for a new leader
Labor was confident it could win majority government after six years of Coalition government and leadership instability.
But Mr Shorten took to the stage a little after 11:30pm AEST to announce he had conceded the election to Mr Morrison and the Coalition.
“Without wanting to hold out any false hope, while there are still millions of votes to count and important seats yet to be finalised, it is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government,” Mr Shorten said.
“I called Scott Morrison to congratulate him and I wish Jenny and their daughters all the very best.
“Above all, I wished Scott Morrison good fortune and good courage in the service of our great nation. The national interest required no less.”
Mr Shorten said it was time for new Labor leadership, with him having held the position for nearly six years.
“This has been a tough campaign, toxic at times. But now that the contest is over all of us have a responsibility to respect the result, respect the wishes of the Australian people and to bring our nation together,” he said.
“However, that task will be one for the next leader of the Labor Party.”
Mr Shorten expressed pride at Labor’s campaign, and made mention of the Coalition’s “arrangements” with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party and One Nation, which he said “have hurt our vote in a lot of places where it mattered most, particularly in Queensland and NSW”.
“I am not disappointed for me. I’ll always be proud of the courage and the integrity and the vision that our team showed.
“I’m disappointed for people who depend upon Labor but I’m proud that we argued what was right, not what was easy.”
Labor senator Penny Wong described the night as “a very tough result” for the Labor Party.
Senator Wong and senior Labor figures attributed, at least in part, the swing against the party to the United Australia Party and Mr Palmer’s big investment in campaign advertising.
“I think we will need to think about what that means for our country, if there are a substantial number of seats that end up going to a particular political party because there is a deal with a man like Mr Palmer or Pauline Hanson,” Senator Wong said.