Tony Abbott, the leader of the Australian Liberal Party, has promised to deliver a “trustworthy, competent” government, after his party swept to a parliamentary poll win in a nationwide election, according to early results.
Current Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd conceded defeat to Abbott on on Saturday, saying that he will also step down as leader of his Labor Party.
With 83 percent of the votes counted, the Australian Electoral Commission showed Abbott’s Liberal/National coalition was leading with 88 seats in the House of Representatives, to Labor’s 56.
Almost two hours after polls closed on Saturday, Rudd spoke to a crowd of supporters in Brisbane to wish his rival well in the “high strain” lifestyle that comes with the leadership.
“A short time ago I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at this national election,” he told cheering supporters. “As prime minister of Australia, I wish him well in the high office of prime minister of this country.”
Announced that he would quit as party leader, he said it was time for a change.
“I will not be recontesting the leadership of the parliamentary Labor Party. The Australian people I believe deserve a fresh start with our leadership.”
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Abbott’s campaign headquarters, said it was a “big personal victory for Tony Abbott.
“But this election was as much about the Labor government losing as it was about his right-of-centre party winning.”
Abbott, a former trainee Catholic priest, boxing enthusiast and monarchist, capitalised on the infighting that saw Rudd oust Julia Gillard as Labor leader in June, three years after she did the same to him.
Speaking at a victory event in Sydney, Abbott promised to provide a “trustworthy, competent” government, after declaring that “Australia is under new management […] and once more open for business”.
“I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy, and which purposely and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments,” he said.
Labor ‘not disciplined enough’
Best known as a Liberal Party politician who is unafraid of speaking his mind, Abbott has rebuilt his image and ran what was widely seen as a disciplined election campaign.
He made a paid parental leave scheme his “signature” policy, while pledging to scrap the carbon tax and make billions of dollars of savings to bring debt down.
“Overall whatever success we are able to gain in this election is due to Tony Abbott’s dedication and determination and commitment to hold a government to account and to present a clear alternative of focused, united, competent government,” his deputy Julie Bishop said on Saturday.
|Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas reports from Sydney|
Veteran Australian journalist Piers Akerman, of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, said the polls showed that Labor’s “dreadful mistake” in switching leaders three times in three years.
The party dumped Rudd when he was first prime minister in 2010, for Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard, only to reinstate him as leader in June 2013 in a desperate bid to stay in power.
“Australians are extremely tired of this constant shift of leaders without going to a democratic vote,” Akerman told Al Jazeera.