AUSTRALIANS will wake this morning to a new Prime Minister after Tony Abbott led the Coalition to a famous, although not unexpected election victory.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd took to the stage in Brisbane shortly before 10pm to concede defeat, wishing Mr Abbott luck in his new role.

At the time of going to print the Coalition had secured 84 seats on the back of a 3.39% two-party-preferred swing and Labor 54, while a further nine were in doubt.

Labor strategists were hopeful of winning as many as 60 seats - a loss of 12 seats across the country, although a figure closer to 58 or 59 appeared more likely.

Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt and Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie managed to hold their seats.

Possibly the biggest story of the night was the Palmer United Party and its enigmatic leader Clive Palmer, who appeared poised to claim the seat of Fairfax. It is also possible his Palmer United Party will win the sixth Senate seat in Queensland.

Former Queensland Liberal National Party senator Barnaby Joyce, who succeeded in winning New England in the lower house, said it would be "pandemonium" if Mr Palmer end up in Canberra.

Deputy Treasurer David Bradbury was probably the most high profile Labor casualty, losing his western Sydney seat of Lindsay.

Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie was also unsuccessful in his bid to win the seat of Forde in Brisbane.

But the result in Queensland was not as bad for Labor as some were predicting, with the party retaining seven of its eight seats, including that of former treasurer Wayne Swan.

LNP candidate Michelle Mandry was ahead in the central Queensland seat of Capricornia, but it was too close to call.

A string of senior Labor MPs were quick to blame division within the party for the loss.

Former health minister Tanya Plibersek said the result proved the adage "disunity is death" in politics.

"I would give us nine out of 10 for governing the country. I'd give us zero out of 10 for governing ourselves," Ms Plibersek said.

"And I think it's clear we had too many people playing their own games and not playing for the team.

"I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. I don't think recrimination in public or in private will help us rebuild the Labor Party."

Chris Bowen, one of the architects of Kevin Rudd's return to the leadership, said Labor now had the "building blocks for the next Labor government".

Mr Bowen, who held his seat of McMahon in western Sydney, said the party owed Mr Rudd a "debt of gratitude" for returning to the leadership, adding he could have walked away from politics at any time in the past three years.

He said the ALP would now have to consider whether the Coalition had a mandate. But he said Labor should not "walk away from its core beliefs" when asked if the party would block Mr Abbott's plan to repeal the carbon tax.


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