POLITICS

Election Night 2016: How It Unfolded

It's closer than close.

02/07/2016 1:29 PM AEST | Updated July 15, 2016 12:56

The election result may not be known for days. Here's everything we know so far.

After eight weeks of campaigning, the Australian Federal Election has come down to the wire.

To claim victory, 76 seats are needed in the House of Representatives. So far, projections indicate the Coalition will win at least 72 seats, while Labor will win at least 66. The Greens have claimed one seat, while other parties are projected to win four. At least seven seats remain in doubt.

In the event of a hung parliament, the Coalition are theoretically in a better position to form government, because they will need to convince fewer minor party members and independents to support them.

12.25am: The Coalition can be confident it will form a majority government, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said during his long-awaited speech at the Wentworth Hotel. But the final result may not be known until Tuesday, he said.

"It is a very, very close count. It is a very close count, as you know," he said. "And right now, right now, right now nearly 30 percent of the votes are yet to be counted.

"Based on the advice I have from our officials and advisers and strategists within the party, I am confident that we will be able to form a majority government.

Turnbull defended the decision to call a double dissolution election, telling the audience it was not a political tactic designed to remove senators. The biggest cheer from the crowd came as Turnbull called to restore the ABCC, which drew calls of "shame, shame" from as the Prime Minister talked about the need for the construction watchdog.

"We need to restore rule of law to the construction industry. -- restore the rule of law to the construction industry. At the moment the CFMEU has over 100 officials before the courts on more than 1,000 charges of breaching industrial law or agreements," he said.

Turnbull said Labor committed an "extraordinary act of dishonesty" and referenced a hoax SMS campaign, seemingly from Medicare, that said it was in danger if the Coalition won Government.

"No doubt the police will investigate. But this is, but this is the scale of the challenge we faced. And regrettably more than a few people were misled. There's no doubt about that. But, the circumstances of Australia cannot be changed by a lying campaign from the Labor Party."

11.30pm: Labor Leader Bill Shorten has taken the stage in Melbourne, declaring the Labor Party is back and the Government has lost its mandate.

Bill Shorten 'Labor party is back'

Shorten said Australia had rejected the government's economic program.

"We have argued for our positive plans, and three years after the Liberals came to power in a landslide, they have lost their mandate," he said.

"Whatever happens next week, Mr Turnbull will never be able to claim that the people of Australia have adopted his ideological agenda. He will never again be able to promise the stability which he has completely failed to deliver tonight.

Shorten's speech came earlier than expected, and was beamed into big screens behind the podium at the Turnbull election party in Sydney.

It was a somber crowd of LNP faithful who watched on silently as Shorten spoke of their mandate being erased, and their policies being brushed aside by the electorate. Silence greeted his opening remarks and it was only when he brought up Medicare that the boos and shouts of "Liar, Liar" cut through the otherwise eerily quiet room.

Election 2016: what happens in a hung parliament?


10.35pm: Former Prime Minister John Howard has mourned Coalition colleagues Jamie Briggs, Karen McNamara and Andrew Nikolic while addressing reporters at Turnbull's election function.

"It looks as though a number of people I know very well have lost, and I grieve for them," Howard said.

"To those who are hanging on, as the count proceeds to wafer thin outcomes, I wish them all the very best."

9.50pm: It's been an extremely tough night for Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition, with a number of key losses to Labor the spectre of a hung parliament looming.

The Liberal-National Government's 90 seats in the 150-seat lower house have been slashed, as analysts speculate it is unlikely a result will become until at least Sunday.

The Greens have declared that if it comes to a hung parliament, the Greens will not support the Coalition.


In South Australia Nick Xenophon's NXT picked up the Liberal seat of Mayo, held by dumped junior minister Jamie Briggs. High profile MPs Wyatt Roy and Ewen Jones are also under threat in their Queensland seats.

Earlier ,deputy Liberal leader and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Labor's medicare attack in the closing weeks of the campaign had registered with Coalition voters.

Victorian senate candidate, broadcaster Derryn Hinch, has declared he was won a spot in the senate.


9.20pm: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declared victory of the north Sydney seat of Warringah.

The former Prime Minister said a strong Coalition government would prevail.

Abbott thanked his family and the New South Wales Premier Mike Baird.

"I couldn't ask for a better friend and colleague than Mike Baird, an absolute gem of a man who is doing a fabulous job, leading our state," he said.

Multiple new candidates had announced they would run against Abbott this election including NXT candidate Marie Rowland and Former Australian Idol host James Mathieson.

9.15pm: Our man at the the Prime Minister's election party, Josh Butler, is reporting a subdued mood greeting guests at the Sofitel in Sydney's CBD.

By 9pm, the Coalition would have hoped to have had victory well within their reach, or at least a wider margin than they currently hold. Crowds are huddled around the televisions which bear news that is not causing people to break out in cheers. The ABC says 70 seats for the Coalition and 63 for the ALP, while channel Seven says 57-50 to Labor.

The prime minister's grinning face is beaming down on the crowd from big screen TVs, but there are no signs of the PM or any coalition MPs just yet.

No doubt they're keeping on their own numbers at this stage.

"The PA is playing an ambient cover of 'Get Lucky' by Daft Punk, but there's little laughter, few jubilant expressions, a lot of nervous checking of phones and glancing at television screens amid quiet conversations," Butler reports.

Meanwhile in the rural NSW seat of New England, former independent Tony Windsor has conceded to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

9.05pm: Former junior minister Jamie Briggs has conceded the seat of Mayo to NXT candidate Rebekha Sharkie.

Sharkie is the first team Xenophon candidate to win a seat in the lower house.


8pm: Pencils down! Polls have now closed across the country, with Western Australia's voting booths shutting at 6pm local time.

7:40pm: Victorian Liberal President Michael Kroger is claiming that former government minister Jamie Briggs is going to lose the South Australian seat of Mayo.

Nick Xenaphon Team candidate Rebekha Sharkie is projected to take the seat.

Sharkie will be the first non-Liberal and first woman to represent the electorate.


7.30pm: Early projections show the election could still be tight, with the Australian Electoral Commission reporting the Coalition leading with 23 seats counted to Labor's 13.

So far just 27 per cent of primary votes have been counted, with 112 seats yet to go.



Linda Burney, former NSW state deputy opposition leader, has claimed victory in the Sydney seat of Barton, becoming the first indigenous woman elected to the House of Representatives

"I can say Barton has created history tonight," she said on Sky News.


6.30pm: The polls have now closed in NT and SA, with voting still underway in WA.

The Channel 7 ReachTel Exit Poll shows the coalition ahead at 51 percent and Labor at 49 percent.

In Sydney, former prime minister Tony Abbott has said both Labor leader Bill Shorten and Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull "are entitled to feel they've done their best" as they've run a "tough race".

In an interview with broadcaster Alan Jones on Channel Seven, Abbott would not comment on whether he would get a position on the front bench saying that's a matter for Turnbull if re-elected.

Abbott compared his September knifing — above that put Malcolm Turnbull in the top job — was like being dropped from 'firsts' to 'seconds' in a football team.

"You've just got to accept the selector's verdict, play as well as you can and see what the future holds," Abbott said.

Abbott also said he would have campaigned to secure a mandate for budget cuts that the senate blocked.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of confusion among voters about how to vote under the new Senate rules.


6pm: The polls have now closed in the eastern states, with votes still being cast in WA, NT and SA.

As we count down the polls closing, one of the more interesting races to watch in NSW will be the inner-west Sydney seat of Grayndler.

The seat is held by the popular veteran ALP figure Anthony Albanese, who has seen a stiff challenge from Greens hopeful Jim Casey.

A trendy, left-leaning electorate where the Green vote has been steadily building for years, Albanese has been pushed hard by Casey.

But for now it is expected Albanese, a former Labor deputy Prime minister and potential party leader, will retain the seat.

"He's had a lot of money, " Albanese told the Huffington Post Australia on Saturday shortly after he cast his vote (and threw down an impromptu DJ set) at Annandale Public School.

"You can go within a kilometre [of here] and see billboard after billboard. They take their funding from around the state and are concentrating it in this seat, trying to remove me as the member for Grayndler."

"There aren't any billboards for the Greens in conservative seats, their sole objective is attacking progressives in the ALP. It's been a negative campaign."

Casey was upbeat about his chances. He also reportedly threw down a DJ set, but unfortunately we missed that one.

Casey is counting on the progressive vote in Grayndler.

"I'm having conversations with people saying they like the local member but have worries about his party's policies," he told HuffPost Australia.

5.19pm: The first exit polls from the 2016 poll suggest the election is still too close to call, with a survey of 25 marginal seats showing a swing of 3.4 percent towards Labor.

This will be too short a swing for victory, but does mean a hung parliament is possible.

Across all of the marginal seats, the Coalition was predicted to secure 43 percent of the vote, while the ALP would get 36 percent, according to a Nine-Galaxy poll.


On a two-party preferred basis, the parties were in a 50-50 deadlock.

Meanwhile Sky News is reporting 62 percent of voters surveyed for its exit poll are tipping the Coalition to win.

4pm: The staff of certain independent/minor party Senate candidates are getting in touch to quietly say that their numbers are already looking good and that they're confident of getting elected. This comes despite fears the new Senate voting changes would make it very hard for minor parties to get elected. With that in mind, check out the latest betting odds for minor parties in the Senate; the bookmakers are saying David Leyonhjelm's Liberal Democrats have the best chance of making it in, followed by the Glenn Lazarus Team and Katter's Australian Party.

3.30pm: South Australian senator Nick Xenophon is reportedly set to win at least a few more Senate seats for his self-titled political party, and seems to be in good spirits today. The king of silly photo ops, he's outdone himself again today.

3pm: there was a moment of controversy over claims that deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop cut in line to vote today, but the Foreign Minister has cleared up those allegations quick smart.

2.30pm: If you're looking for the most important picture of the day, it may be this man voting while wearing thongs and red budgie smugglers with "pussy magnet" written on the back.

2pm: Our reporter Emily Brooks went out to Malcolm Turnbull's electorate of Wentworth to survey the scene. There was a fantastic spread of food at the polling booths but -- SHOCK HORROR -- not many democracy sausages. We've also coincidentally coined the term "democracy kale". Voters in that part of Sydney say they are still voting for the PM, but went in with an open mind because of their disappointment with his recent decisions. Check her full story here.

1.30pm: We've still got more than four hours until polls close, but there have already been numerous allegations of wild behaviour at polling stations. A Greens volunteer in Higgins claimed she was bitten by Liberal volunteers, while Labor supporters have also reportedly damaged Greens signs in Melbourne. Fioan Scott, the Liberal MP in marginal western Sydney seat Lindsay, also claimed Labor had damaged her signs. If you see anything like this going on, let us know.

1.15pm: Still in line to vote? Don't worry, you're not alone. Many people are reporting long lines of up to an hour, to exercise their democratic rights -- check our story here. Hopefully the sausages and cake stalls will keep you satisfied through the long wait. Among a lot of fantastic food, this is a fantastic offering from the inner-west Sydney.

1pm: Hopefully you've managed to get a sausage sizzle in the name of democracy already, but if not, polling booths close at 6pm so you've got some time. It has been a flurry of activity this morning, with candidates hanging out at polling booths to get some last-minute campaigning in. The polls are balanced precariously -- depending on who you believe, it's currently 51-49 to the Coalition, 51-49 to Labor, or an even 50-50. Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull did some work at booths in Sydney (check our story here), with the PM even manning the BBQ for a while.

Labor's Anthony Albanese, facing a stiff challenge in his Sydney seat of Grayndler from Greens man Jim Casey, hopped on the DJ decks at a local primary school and became king of the kids.

Bill Shorten will soon head back to Melbourne, to vote in his seat of Maribyrnong, with the ALP election night event also in that city. Turnbull has reportedly left his media pack behind in the Sydney city, and has taken a maverick trek out into western Sydney on his own, which has included his favourite thing in the world -- getting photos with rail workers at the train station.

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