Surprise election win for Australia’s Liberal Party-led coalition

Sharon Marris, news reporter

Australia's opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten has conceded defeat in the country's election.

Mr Shorten told supporters in Melbourne: "Without wanting to hold out any false hope, while there are still millions of votes to count and important seats yet to be finalised, it is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government."

Exit polls had favoured the Labor Party but, despite significant gains in New South Wales and Victoria, Mr Shorten's bid to become Australia's sixth prime minister in six years fell short.

With more than half of the votes counted, the coalition government was heading for a surprise win, although whether it can govern with an outright majority is not yet clear.

By late Saturday, the Liberal-National coalition had won 74 seats in the 151-seat lower house, with 65 going to Labor and 12 undecided, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

A total of 76 seats are needed to form a majority government.

Mr Morrison had campaigned on income tax cuts and the risk to the economy posed by Labor, and his party made important gains in the states of Queensland and Tasmania on the way to victory.

Speaking to supporters after the result, he said: "I have always believed in miracles."

"Tonight is not about me or even the Liberal Party but it's about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first and so, friends, that's exactly what we're going to do."

But the Liberals did lose at least one big name: former prime minister Tony Abbott, who lost his seat of Warringah after 25 years.

His opponent, independent candidate Zali Steggall, has previously said she would vote with the Liberal coalition on confidence and supply but that she wanted more ambitious action on climate change, one of the election's big issues.

Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas. It is also very dependent on coal-fired electricity.

But the country also suffers heavily from bushfires , record high temperatures , drought , and damage to its coral reefs .

Mr Morrison, a supporter of the coal industry, had vowed to uphold Australia's commitment to the 2015 Paris Accord (which would see the country's emissions cut by 26-28%) but said any further cuts would hurt the economy.

Mr Shorten, a former union leader, had said his government would aim to cut carbon emissions by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030, with net zero emissions by 2050.

Voting is compulsory for Australia's 17 million eligible voters.

There were more than 7,000 polling stations across Australia and another 90 overseas. The Australian High Commission in London said there had been more than 10,000 votes cast by Australian citizens in the UK by Friday lunchtime.