Federal Election 2019: Shock Coalition victory
19 May 2019
The Liberal-National Coalition has secured a third term of government after delivering a major upset at yesterday’s federal election. The shock result went against national opinion polls and saw a collapse in Labor’s primary vote, with the Coalition picking up seats on the back of swings in Queensland and Tasmania. It is still unclear whether the Coalition will secure a small parliamentary majority or if it will need to rely on the support of crossbenchers to form a minority government. On current estimates, the Coalition is two seats shy of a majority, securing 74 seats to Labor’s 66 with almost 75 per cent of the vote counted. Six crossbenchers have secured seats in the 151-seat House of Representatives, while a further five seats remain in doubt.
Bookmakers had already paid out millions of dollars, confident of a Labor win. Poll after poll indicated Labor held a two-party preferred (2PP) lead over the Coalition, however yesterday’s nationwide 2PP result showed a reversal of the polls, with 51 per cent to the Coalition and 49 to Labor. The Coalition’s primary vote was also stronger than anticipated at 42 per cent to Labor’s 33. In Queensland, Labor suffered a primary vote swing of 3.4 per cent, while the Coalition – helped along by preferences from One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party – welcomed a 2.8 per cent 2PP swing in the Sunshine State. Attention has already turned to what went wrong for Labor in Queensland, with its position on the Adani coal mine considered a contributing factor.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed victory for the Coalition at midnight eastern time, telling supporters “I have always believed in miracles” and thanking “the quiet Australians” for backing the Government. The PM told supporters the Government will get back to work following the election, saying “tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first”. While acknowledging a long list of family members, colleagues and party officials, Mr Morrison also thanked “pretty much the whole state of Queensland” for delivering a strong result for the Coalition.
Half an hour earlier, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten fronted party faithful in Melbourne to concede defeat and confirm he will step down as Labor leader in light of the election loss. Mr Shorten urged supporters to respect the election result and the wishes of the Australian people, while seeking to galvanise supporters around Labor’s vision, encouraging them to “leave here knowing that we’ve argued for the future and our time will come”. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has confirmed he will nominate for the party leadership, while Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek says she is “certainly considering” putting her hand up. Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen indicated last night that it was too soon for him to say.
Seats on both sides have changed hands, with the Coalition picking up Bass and Braddon in Tasmania, Lindsay in NSW, and Longman and Herbert in Queensland. Meanwhile, Labor picked up Gilmore and now holds Corangamite and Dunkley in Victoria after they became notional Labor seats following the redistribution. Former PM Tony Abbott lost his seat of Warringah in Sydney’s north shore to independent Zali Steggall, who campaigned on climate change and has previously indicated she will support the Coalition in the case of a hung parliament. Mr Abbott – who has held the blue-ribbon seat since 1994 – said he would “rather be a loser than a quitter”, while telling supporters that PM Scott Morrison would “enter the Liberal Party pantheon” following the election victory.
In the Victorian seat of Indi, independent MP Helen Haines succeeds outgoing MP Cathy McGowan, securing 52 per cent of the 2PP vote and a seat on the crossbench. Ms Haines this morning confirmed that she will support the Coalition in the event of a hung parliament, while seeking action on climate change. SA Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie was once again returned in Mayo and has also previously indicated she will back the Coalition, while Queenslander Bob Katter has supported the Coalition in the past.
The Coalition is ahead in four of the five seats that remain in doubt, including former PM Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth, where there is a tight race between Liberal candidate Dave Sharma and incumbent independent Kerryn Phelps. Other contests too close to call at the time of writing are Boothby in SA, Chisholm in Victoria, Lilley in Queensland and Macquarie in NSW.
While the Senate count will take some time, early indications suggest the Coalition will not have a majority in the Upper House, but is likely to hold 34 seats compared to Labor’s 27. A total of 39 seats is needed to form a majority, meaning the Coalition will likely need support from five of the six crossbenchers to pass legislation where Labor and the Greens are opposed. In Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie is poised to return to the Senate more than a year after she was forced to resign over dual citizenship, issuing a warning that the Coalition will need to treat her “a hell of a lot better” if she is returned. It is unlikely that Clive Palmer or any of his candidates will secure a seat in either House, despite the United Australia Party’s estimated $80 million campaign spend.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters he is thankful to live in the “greatest country in all the world” as he walked into church this morning, while also thanking the people of Cook for their support. “You don’t get to be prime minister and serve in that capacity unless you are first a member of your local electorate”, Mr Morrison said.