Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared victory for his ruling conservative coalition in the country's tight general election, eight days after voters went to the polls.

"We've won the election, that's what we've done," Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

"It is vital that this parliament works; it is vital that we work together and, as far as we can, find ways upon which we can all agree," Turnbull added.

Australia elections: New politicians headed for Canberra

Earlier on Sunday, Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition party, had conceded defeat and called Turnbull to congratulate him.

"It is clear that Mr Turnbull and his coalition will form a government," Shorten said in a news conference in Melbourne.

"So I have spoken to Mr Turnbull earlier this afternoon to congratulate him and [his wife] Lucy and to wish them my very best."

Tough road ahead

Both Turnbull's ruling Liberal/National coalition and Labor remain short of the 76 seats needed to claim a majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives, with counting still ongoing.

But Turnbull has won the support of three independent MPs on budget matters and on votes of no confidence, paving the way for him to form a minority government if he does not win 76 seats.

The coalition is expected to secure 74 seats, and potentially two more, according to projections by state broadcaster ABC.

Labor has won 66, and with five independents elected, the opposition does not have sufficient seats to govern in Canberra, according to the projections.

Despite the victory, Turnbull faces a tough road ahead with a divided party, a fractured Senate and a weary electorate.

The government went into the election with a comfortable majority of 90 seats and few had predicted it would suffer such steep losses.

Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Labor Party, conceded defeat [Julian Smith/EPA] 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies