Conservative challenger on Australia election: Tony Abbott has won Australia’s general election, defeating Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of the Labor Party.
- The victory returns Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition to power for the first time in six years.
Results show the coalition won 88 seats in the 150-seat parliament, while Labor took 57 seats. Liberal party leader Tony Abbott will be the new prime minister.
Abbott on Saturday promised a competent and trustworthy government, saying “From today I declare that Australia is under new management”.
“I can inform you that the government of Australia has changed,” Abbott told supporters. “For just the seventh time in 60 years the government of Australia has changed”.
Rudd announced he had telephoned Abbott to concede defeat before the final results were in. He said, “As prime minister of Australia, I wish him well in the high office of prime minister of this country”.
In his speech, Rudd said, “Tonight is the time to unite in the great Australian nation. Because whatever our politics may be, we are all first and foremost Australian.”
He added, “I know that Labor hearts are heavy across the nation tonight. And as your prime minister and as your parliamentary leader of the great Australian Labor party, I accept responsibility. I gave it my all, but it was not enough for us to win. I’m proud that despite all the profits of doom, that we have preserved our federal parliamentary labor party as a viable fighting force for the future.”
The Labor party held power for six years under Rudd and Julia Gillard who had deposed each other in successive leadership challenges.
Domestic issues dominated this election, especially the economy, education and broadband Internet services. The international crisis and debate over a possible military response to alleged chemical weapons use by Syria’s government was largely set aside, at least for the time being.
Abbott has said he would take a cautious approach to any involvement in foreign conflicts. He once referred to the Syrian conflict as one of “baddies against baddies”, a comment that Rudd criticized.
Rudd called the conflict in Syria “the world’s greatest political crisis and unfolding humanitarian disaster”, but he did not say if a Labor government would support military intervention.
The two candidates differed in their views on same-sex marriage, with Rudd supporting it and Abbott against it. They held similar views on the issue of asylum seekers on Australia election.
Abbott had the support of a powerful ally, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who has made it clear he wanted to see the Labor government go.
Australia election –Over 14 million people were registered to vote in this election, with voting being compulsory in Australia by law. Image/ABC: John Donegan