Abbott primed for Australia poll win

Exit poll points to landslide election win for conservative opposition, ending six years of turbulent Labor rule.

    Early exit polls show the Tony Abbott-led conservative opposition romping to victory in Australia's federal election.

    Australia's Defence Minister Stephen Smith conceded the Labor government would lose Saturday's election minutes after polls closed in eastern states.

    Earlier, fitness fanatic Abbott voted at a Sydney surf club flanked by his family on Saturday. He exuded confidence as polls pointed to a landslide loss for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and an end to six years of troubled Labor rule.

    "I sort of wish I was out there on the waves," Abbott quipped, adding he did not trust polls pointing to an easy conservative victory ending the first minority government in decades.

    A Sky News exit poll released before voting ended at 6pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (0800 GMT) on Saturday predicted that the Liberal-National Coalition would gain a massive 25 seats to sweep 97 of the 150 seats in the lower House of Representatives. Polls were to close on the west coast close two hours later.

    The survey, carried out by Newspoll, forecast Labor would lose 21 to be left with just 51. The independents would have two seats.

    On a two-party basis, the coalition would take 53 percent of the vote to Labor's 47 percent.

    A separate Morgan-Channel Ten exit poll predicted Abbott's coalition would sweep to victory with 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Labor on a two-party basis.

    In the primary vote, which takes into account the minor parties and independents, the coalition had 42.5 percent to Labor's 33.5 percent, it showed.

    Photo mishap

    The Greens Party would garner 11 percent and the newly established Palmer United Party, run by colourful billionaire Clive Palmer, five percent, with "others" taking the rest.

    A Newspoll published before voting started indicated Abbott was ahead 54 to 46 percent on a two-party basis, the same as a Nielsen poll.

    That represented a four percentage point swing since the last election in 2010.

    Both Rudd and Abbott were jostled by demonstrators on Saturday, with Abbott at one point rushed away by bodyguards after being threatened at a Sydney seat held by Labor.

    Rudd's vote in his hometown of Brisbane in sub-tropical Queensland was disrupted by protests against tough new laws on asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat, a hot button issue particularly in Labor's blue-collar suburban heartland.

    Rudd's election day woes worsened when a key photo opportunity for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has descended into chaos after members of the media were removed from St Paul's Church as he queued to vote in his seat of Griffith in Brisbane.

    Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) officials indicated on Saturday that they did not have authority to let the media in to cover the moment.

    'Dreadful mistake'

    "You don't have the relevant permission," said a polling place officer as he blocked the media.

    The clash was live streamed on the internet, as Rudd suggested the journalists and camera crews left the church hall until the AEC gave the all-clear.

    The media crews were able to enter the church 10 minutes later, according to News Limited.

    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.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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