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AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed yesterday’s federal election result a “miracle” as the Liberal-led ruling coalition defied critics to win a majority in the country’s parliament.
Opinion polls had pointed to victory for the Labour Party led by Bill Shorten who stepped down soon after it became clear that the opposition would not win enough seats to form a government.
He blamed division over the issue of climate change for the party’s unexpected loss and said: “For the sake of the next generation, Australia must find a way forward.”
But critics are blaming Mr Shorten’s failure to connect with the public and a poor campaign for the defeat, after Labour led the Liberals in the polls for the past two years.
Voting is compulsory in Australia with elections held every three years.
Political instability and in-party fighting has increased in recent years with no prime minister serving a full term of office since 2007.
Mr Morrison praised the “quiet Australian” for delivering the shock victory.
Highlights of the night included defeats for two high-profile candidates, former prime minister Tony Abbott and far-right politician Fraser Anning who shot to global prominence after he was egged following remarks he made about the New Zealand mosque murders.
Mr Abbott lost his seat of Warringah to independent Zali Steggall, a former Olympic skier, with a massive swing against him.
Ms Steggall stood on a platform promising meaningful action on the climate crisis and said the people of Warringah had “voted for the future.”
“This is a win for moderates with a heart,” she said. “I will be a climate leader for you. And I will keep the new government to account, and make sure we take action on climate change.”
Celebrations followed Mr Anning’s defeat in Queensland with ABC presenter Antony Green declaring: “Fraser Anning goes back to where he came from.”
Mr Anning managed just 19 votes in the last election, the second fewest out of 126 Queensland candidates, but secured a Senate seat after One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts was ruled ineligible on citizenship grounds.
Paralympian Kurt Fearnley predicted the result, tweeting on Friday that “tomorrow the country gets to rid itself of the stain that Fraser Anning was on our Parliament and country.”
With results still to be declared it is unclear whether the Liberals will have enough seats to govern alone or will form a coalition.
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