Sep 7 2013
Australia's ruling Labour Party appears poised for defeat in a national election, as opinion polls, analysts and an early exit poll suggested the conservative opposition party was on its way to a sweeping victory.
The change is expected despite an apparent lack of overwhelming enthusiasm for opposition leader Tony Abbott. He seems on track to guide his Liberal Party-led coalition to a victory over a ruling party marred by infighting and a much-maligned carbon tax.
A Sky News exit poll conducted by Sydney-based market researcher Newspoll showed the coalition was leading Labour 53% to 47%, and was expected to win 97 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives.
The poll results, announced 90 minutes before voting closed on Australia's east coast, were based on 1,000 interviews with voters in Labour swing seats across New South Wales and Queensland states. The poll did not give a margin of error.
An hour after polls closed on the east coast, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. election analyst Antony Green said early counting suggested that Labour had been ousted. Early analysis of the results showed a shift toward the conservatives, he said, with the coalition appearing to have 75 seats - half the 150 seats in the House of Representatives. Labour appeared to have 42.
"The opposition is on a pretty secure 75 already. On that basis, they're going to get a majority," Mr Green said. "So I think we can say the government has been defeated."
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was once widely liked by the public, becoming the nation's most popular leader in three decades when he took on the top job in 2007. Now, his party is facing the prospect of an end to its six years in power amid voter frustration over years of party instability and bickering, and widespread hatred of a carbon tax on major polluters.
The carbon tax has long been a thorn in the side of the Labour Party. The previous prime minister, Julia Gillard, broke an election promise and agreed to impose the tax in a bid to form a coalition Labour needed to stay in power.
Labour required the support of the minor Greens party - which insisted on the tax - in order to have enough seats in Parliament to control government. The deal helped lead to Ms Gillard's downfall, and in June she lost her job to Mr Rudd. Ms Gillard herself came to power by unseating Mr Rudd in a similar party coup three years earlier.
The Gillard vs Rudd drama and the squabbling between their camps left many voters disillusioned. To some former Labour supporters, Mr Abbott - once dubbed "unelectable" by a former boss - was seen as the lesser of two evils.