Rudd v Abbott: The Verdict


10.45pm: FINAL WRAP

It was a night that saw a clear victory to the Coalition, as expected.

There were few surprises except the Palmer United Party.

Kevin Rudd conceded victory with strange grandiloquence. Tony Abbott accepted victory with disconcerting piety.

Labor lost heavily, but saved the furniture. Most of its current leadership group has survived. 

The Coalition won big, but perhaps not quite big enough. Much will depend on the final counts in the Senate, where the interplay of preferences could determine the legacy of much of what Labor has achieved over the last six years. It could come down to Arthur Sinodinos' third Senate seat in NSW.

Should the Coalition win the Senate, we can expect the rapid reversal of many of Labor's policies and laws.

Should the Senate hang, or remain in the hands of the Greens and Labor, then we are set for legislative deadlock on much of Tony Abbott's agenda.

But, overall, Labor might even be relieved at how well it has emerged from tonight. A big swing across the electorate has not wiped out progressive representation, nor rendered the ALP unfit for opposition.

The Greens suffered a swing away from their record 2010 levels, but they too will be pleased with tonight's results. The Greens vote held up in crucial respects, not least in the re-election of deputy leader and sole lower house member, Adam Bandt. Tonight seems to back up the theory that the Greens base is big enough, and concentrated enough, to elect parliamentarians to the House.

That's it from us at NM tonight. We'll be back in the morning with our analysis on why Abbott won, Rudd lost, and Palmer surprised. 



Tony Abbott has lauded the victory of the Coalition as only the seventh change of government in 60 years.
"I pledge myself to the servcie of this country," he told voters in the conclusion to his speech.
Abbott's speech was a contrast to Rudd's: humble, almost pious, and subtle in what he has claimed as his mandate. In fact, the idea of a mandate was not stressed.
That question on mandates will be much discussed in the wake of tonight's victory. 
For now, though, the limelight and the moment were Tony Abbott's:
“I can inform you that the government of Australia has changed.”
"You obviously enjoyed hearing it, so let me say again: the government of Australia has changed."
“For just he seventh time in 60 years the government of Australia has changed. The Coalition has won.”
“The Australian Labor Party vote is at its lowest level for more than 100 years.”
“So tonight for the last time in this campaign, it is my honour to address you, the people of Australia."
“Mr Rudd has conceded defeat. He has been the prime minister of this country not once but twice so I acknowledge his service to the people of our nation. I now look forward to forming a government that is competent that is trustworthy but that purposely steadfastly, methodically delivers on our commitments to you, the Australian people.”
“Something very significant has happened today. Today the people of Australia have declared that the right to govern this country does not belong to Mr Rudd or to me, or to his party, or to ours, but it belongs to you, the people of Australia.”
“It is the people of Australia that determine the government and the prime ministership of this country and you will punish anyone that takes you for granted and that’s as it should, be in a great democracy such as ours.”
“So my friends, the Governor-General will swear in a new government.”
“A government that says what it means and means what it says. A government of no surprises, a no excuses government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential and a government hat accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words.”
“In three years time the carbon tax will be gone, the boats will be stopped, the budget will be on track for a believable surplus and the roads of the 21st century will finally be underway and from today I declare that Australia is under new management, and that Australia is once more open for business.”
“Today hundreds for thousands of people would have voted for the Liberal and National Pares for the first time in their lives I give you this assurance we will not let you down.”
“A good government is one that governs for all Australians, including all those who haven’t voted for it.”
“A good government is one with a duty to help everyone to maximise his or her potential, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, forgotten families, as well as those that Menzies describes as lifters, not leaners.”
Abbott called it “the greatest honour and the heaviest responsibility that any member of parliament can ever have.”
“I am though proud and humble as I shoulder the duties of government.”
“The time for campaigning has passed. The time for governing has arrived. I pledge myself to the service of this country.”



Kevin Rudd has delivered a triumphal speech, strangely out of step with the reality of the defeat that Labor faces.

An uplifting, even evangelical speech saw the outgoing Prime Minister not so much conceding as celebrating 122 years of Labor history. In typical Rudd style, Labor's singularly polarising leader announced he was stepping own from the leadership while celebrating the values and philosophies of Labor and the labour movement.

Was Rudd putting down claims to future judgment? Almost certainly. 

But it was far from humble, and indeed almost an arrogant address, for a leader who led his party to a crushing defeat. 

Highlights from the speech below.

"The things that unite us are more powerful than the things that divide us, which is why the world marvels at Australia."

Rudd talked of the “stresses and strains of high office” and wished incoming prime minister Tony Abbott the best.

"In this marvellous tapestry of modern Austalia, the mosaic of our multicultural nation, that we fashion such unity out of diversity, therein lies the great Australian dream, which is why we all are proud to be Australian," he continued. 

“Therese and I look forward to greeting to them at the Lodge next week. I also wish his government well for the great and difficult challenges which lie ahead for Australia."

"Now I wish to speak to Labor people and Labor supporters everywhere across Australia."

There were chants of "Kevin! Kevin!"

"I know that Labor hearts are heavy across the nation tonight."

"I accept responsibility. I gave it my all. But it was not enough for us to win. I am proud that despite all the prophets of doom, that we have preserved our federal parliamentary Labor Party as a viable force for the future."

"We appear to have held every seat in Queensland."

"Every cabinet minister has been returned."

"Tonight we have lost many Labor men and women from our parliament and I would like to thank them personally."

Rudd also thanked “the true believers”.

"For our party and our movement we have known defeat before, but I say this to you: thoughout our 122 year history we have always, always risen from defeat."

Rudd predicetd that Labor would "renew our party with freah vigour and new ideas for the future."

"And we’ll do it again."

"Ben Chifley's Light on the Hill still burns bright across Australia. It is a flame that cannot be extinguished and while there is still breath in Labor bodies, strength in labor sinews, hope in Labor hearts, Ben Chifley’s Light on the Hill will continue forever."  

Rudd finished the speech by thanking the senior members of his cabinet, including Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong, as well as a long list of Labor staffers and campaign workers.

"And finally to each of my family here, they are my life, my hope, my encouragement, my support, and without them I could done have none of this it would have been impossible."

"Friends you’ve had a hard day, so let’s bring this a close when I say this throughout our Labor history we have been a party of hard heads and soft hearts. Never allowing our hearts to harden to those of our Australian family who are vulnerable. This is a great movement and I salute the movement for its strength its vitality and its future."

"I have been honoured to serve as your prime minister and as your leader, and there comes a time when you know you’ve given it your all."

"I will not be recontesting the leadership of the parliamentary Labor party. I know this will not be welcome news."

"I take this decision with a heavy heart, because I love this party, I love the movement, I love the values for which we stand, I live the hard work in translating that into policies which advance our future."

"The time has come for renewal."

He hailed his recent reforms as the “democratisation of the party.”

"To be the broad church we need to be to fully embrace our future."

"We are the party of the little guy, because it’s from the little guys, the forgotten people of Australia, sometimes, that our nation’s strength is built for the future. So friends, you won’t hear my voice in public affairs of the nation for some time. That is as it should be." 



"Saving the furniture" has been a phrase much bandied about in the end times of this Labor government.

The phrase refers to retaining a base of safe seats and electable leadership talent even in the face of defeat. At the nadir of Labor's despair, it sometimes seemed like future leaders like Chris Bowen and Tony Burke might be chased from parliament.

If Labor is to rebuild, it badly needs to hold on to a least a foothold in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Labor has done that. In Watson and McMahon, Burke and Bowen have retained their seats reasonably safely.

New talent is also entering the Labor caucus in isolated examples, such as Lisa Chesters in Bendigo and Matt Thistlethwaite in Kingsford Smith

Labor may not have avoided a crushing defeat, but this is not an Anna Bligh-style wipe out.

For that, at least, progressive voters can be thankful.



It's been a grim night for Labor, but progressive voters can celebrate one thing at least: Jaymes Diaz is not going to win in Greenway.

Rowland has bucked the national trend and recorded a 3 per cent swing towards the ALP. Journalists across the world will be disappointed, but the voters of Greenway may well be relieved.



At this stage of the night, we can start to tally the Coalition's gains. Seats now firmly in the Coalition's column that represent gains in the 2013 election include:

La Trobe


8.35pm: IT'S OVER

With the Electoral Commission putting 76 seats in the Cooalition's column, federal government will pass to the Coalition. Tony Abbott will be Australia's 28th Prime Minister.



The ABC is calling the seat of Fairfax for Clive Palmer. The larger-than-life mining mogul is on 29 per cent of the primary vote and looks like he could win off the back of Labor prferences.



I'm off to Melbourne's 3RRR to talk politics with the crew there. Don't worry! I'll be posting from the studios.



With roughly 10,000 votes counted, Adam Bandt looks likely to be returned. He has a 6.9 per cent swing towards him on primary votes.

"We didn't want this election to be a race to the bottom," Bandt tells the ABC. "One of the pieces of feedback that I got throughout the whole election is that people were fed up with Labor in particular trying to out-Abbott Tony Abbott."

In Batman, Greens candidate Alex Bhathal trails Labor's David Feeney, but has seen a slight improvement in her primary vote. 



One of the ways to look at this election is in vote totals by party across the country. 

These figures show a general swing to the right. Labor has gone backwards and the Coalition advanced. At the extremes of the spectrum, the shift is arguably magnified, with left-wing minor parties doing poorly and right-wing minor parties well.

The Palmer United Party is the big story of the minor parties in the election. It is picking up double digit votes in much of Queensland and 6.3 per cent nationally. Palmer himself is a real chance to win the seat of Fairfax

Conversely, The Greens are leaking support. The environmental party is polling only 8.4 per cent nationally, a swing of nearly 3 per cent since 2010. However, there are few results in for Melbourne seats yet, so this may lift the eventual Greens vote.

The Greens vote looks to be returning to its base. Either disaffected voters are returning to the ALP, or, more likely in my opinion, the general swing to the right has meant both Labor and The Greens have lost some of their votes to parties on the right. 



It's now possible to start to call some of the results in seats with significant vote counts in. 

In western Sydney, Labor marginal Lindsay, held by Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury, has fallen.

With nearly 9000 votes counted, Bradbury has suffered a 4.4 per cent swing away from Labor. Fiona "Sex Appeal" Scott looks bound for Canberra. 

In Greenway, Michelle Rowland is trailing the eccentric Jaymes Diaz after preferences, in a result that looks set to go down to the wire. 

In northern NSW, Janelle Saffin is in big trouble in Page

In Tasmania, it's a bloodbath for Labor. The ALP looks set to lose Braddon, Bass and Lyons.

In Victoria, Labor's Laura Smyth trails in La Trobe.  




With the swings starting to total up against Labor across the various seats, it seems increasingly obvious the government cannot win this election. As we know, Labor needs swings towards it in critical battlegrounds if it is to pick up seats and retain governments. 

We're not seeing any swings to Labor. We are consistently seeing swings aginst Labor and towards the Coalition. Even in a seat like Lilley, where Wayne Swan appears to be out-performing the ALP in the rest of Brisbane, we're still seeing a swing against Labor.

Over the next half an hour or so, we will start to see a string of Labor marginals fall.



Clive Palmer has been ridiculed throughout this campaign, from his devastating display of twerking to hs increasingly erratic press conferences. 

But the Palmer United Party is polling above 5 per cent according to the Morgan exit poll, and in double digits in several Queensland seats, including 27 per cent for Palmer himself in the Sunshine Coast seat in Fairfax. Palmer's preferences are clearly going to play a role in close contests, and in the Senate in Queensland.

According to one of my Twiiter followers in Brisbane, "people were talking his flyers left, right and centre" today. 

It shows yet again that parties of the populist right are perenially popular in Queensland. 



Early results seem to confirm the exit polls, showing swings away from Labor and towards the Coalition.

That's desperately bad news for the government, as the ALP needed a swing towards it to have any chance of retaining government. As we are now starting to see in Tasmania, Labor appears set to lose seats there, and early reports have the ALP travelling very poorly in western Sydney.

State-based swing figures show the Coalition enjoying a swing of 2 per cent in NSW, 5 per cent in Victoria and a whopping 11 per cent in Tasmania. That makes it almost impossible for Labor to win. Indeed, extrapolated out to the 150 seats in the lower house chamber, it puts Labor below 50 seats in the House of Representatives.



Early results for Braddon in Tasmania, held by Labor's Sid Sidebottom, show a big swing away from the government and towards the Coalition. Labor has been in trouble in Tasmania for some time, and this early data confirms that. The usual caveats apply with only 1200 votes counted.

There are now 2000 votes counted in Lyons. The result is also very bad for Labor. Long-standing incumbent Dick Adams has a 12 per cent margin, but there is a 14 per cent swing to the Coalition.



NSW Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos is on the ABC broadcast. He is telling Kerry O’Brien that he was “surprised” at how quickly Kevin Rudd’s popularity dwindled after re-taking the prime ministership. Sinodinos thinks that the Coalition’s steady strategy and Labor’s inability to change the message means this is a verdict on the last six years of Labor disunity.

It’s hard to disagree with any of that, actually.

Meanwhile, over on ABC24, outgoing Labor stalwart Stephen Smith has admitted “the reality” that “Labor will be defeated tonight.” It does look like it's going to be a long and depressing night for ALP supporters.



Exit polls are often an excellent way to predict the final result of the election, as they poll voters who have just cast their ballots. The exit poll data we have looks bad for the government.

The Morgan exit poll update for 5pm shows the Liberal and National Parties on a combined 43 per cent, Labor on 33 per cent, the Greens on 11 and the Palmer United Party on 5. Morgan calculates that washes out to a 48-52 result with the Coalition expected to comfortably sail to victory.

A Sky News exit poll has the Libs on 45 and Labor 36 in primary terms. That’s another big win to the Coalition.


6PM: Hello! And welcome to New Matilda’s live blog of the 2013 federal election. I'm Ben Eltham, NM's national affairs correspondent. 

Tonight I’ll be taking you through the thrills, the spills, the gains and the retains as Australia votes to decide the 44th Parliament of the Commonwealth.

I’ll be aided and abetted by New Matilda’s team of editors and journalists around the country, as well the boffins in the Australian Electoral Commission’s virtual tally room, and a liberal dose of good old fashioned television commentary.

If you get chance, check out our coverage from earlier in the day as New Matilda gauged the nation’s sentiment at a series of booths in marginal seats throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

I myself voted earlier today down at my local booth, Thornbury Primary. Here in the seat of Batman, I’m deep in progressive territory with the only question being how much further Greens candidate Alex Bhathal can eat into the ALP’s “faceless man” David Feeney’s massive margin.

As always, we love feedback and comments here at NM. You can comment in the comments section below, and you can also tweet to me at @beneltham.

I’ll be filing here regularly throughout the night right up until the calling of the card. I’ll then be heading out to report on some of the election parties – both celebratory and mournful – dotted throughout Melbourne.

At 7.45pm I’ll be crossing to La Trobe University’s Upstart website, who are doing a live webcast from their studios in La Trobe. You can catch me here:

A little after 8pm I’ll be talking to Melbourne community radio station 3RRR about the election and some of the big talking points of the night. You can catch the live stream of 3RRR’s light-hearted election special here:

Ben Eltham is New Matilda's National Affairs Correspondent.