Abbott sweeps to power in Australia

Abbott sweeps to power in Australia

Australia's conservative party leader Tony Abbott was elected as expected as the nation's new prime minister, declaring he was "proud and humbled" by his landslide victory over the Labor Party.

With more than 90 per cent of the vote counted, the Australian Electoral Commission said Mr Abbott's Liberal-National coalition was heading for a landslide win, leading in 91 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, to Labor's 54.

That would give it the biggest majority since Mr John Howard's coalition won office in 1996. Labor, punished for six years of turbulent rule and failing to maximise the benefits of a mining boom that is now fading, was on track to record its lowest national vote in more than a century.

The outcome is also a big contrast to the last elections which resulted in a hung Parliament and left Labor ruling by a thread - and a clear, strong victory for Mr Abbott.

The British-born Catholic, who opted for politics instead of the priesthood, defeated Mr Kevin Rudd, the Mandarin-speaking former diplomat whose Labor Party has governed since 2007.

In a solemn and restrained victory speech to a cheering crowd, Mr Abbott, 55, said he was ready to serve the nation and declared that "Australia is under new management and… once again open for business". "I can inform you that the government of Australia has changed," he said last night in Sydney.

"Something very significant has happened today… The time for campaigning has passed. The time for governing has arrived. I pledge myself to the service of our country." Mr Rudd, also 55, last night resigned as Labor leader after conceding defeat. Flanked by his wife and his two sons in his hometown of Brisbane, he expressed best wishes to Mr Abbott and took responsibility for the loss.

"Labor hearts are heavy across Australia," he said. "I gave it my all but it was not enough for us to win." The election is set to end three years of unstable minority government and boost the country's dispirited mood among businesses and consumers, despite Australia's strong economy and low unemployment.

Mr Abbott, a staunch conservative and father of three, vowed last night to cut Labor's carbon tax and mining tax, reduce spending and take a tough stance towards asylum- seekers. "We will not let you down," he said. "We will not leave anyone behind... A good government is one that governs for all Australians including those who have not voted for it."

Though polls show Mr Abbott is still not popular, he ran a disciplined campaign.

He is expected to be sworn in officially by Governor General Quentin Bryce this week. A Labor frontbencher, Ms Tanya Plibersek, told ABC television last night: "I would give us nine out of 10 for governing the country, I would give us zero out of 10 for governing ourselves."


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated Mr Tony Abbott on his election victory yesterday, saying in a letter: "Your resounding electoral success reflects the confidence that Australians have in your leadership and vision for Australia." Noting Singapore and Australia's excellent, longstanding bilateral relations, he said the two countries work well together in multilateral fora and share wide-ranging cooperation in areas, including trade and investments, defence, education and people-to-people exchanges.

Mr Lee recalled meeting Mr Abbott in Canberra last October and looked forward to working with him to strengthen ties. "I would like to invite you to make an official visit to Singapore in the near future," he said.

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