LOCAL ELECTION 2013 COVERAGE
10.44pm: Labor's Sharon Bird has comfortably retained Cunningham despite a swing against the party of 3.35 per cent. With 78 per cent of voted counted, Ms Bird polled 46 per cent of first preference votes while Liberal Party candidate claimed 33 per cent.
10.18pm: Tony Abbott has claimed victory in today's federal election..‘‘I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy,’’ he told a packed crowd at the Liberal Party function at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney.
10pm: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has quit the leadership of the Labor party after today's election defeat.
Speaking at his election night party at the Gabba, in Brisbane, Mr Rudd said: ‘‘There comes a time when you know that you’ve given it your all and the time for the party to further renew its leadership for the future.
‘‘For me that time is now.
‘‘My responsibility has been to maintain Labor as a fighting force for the future so that we can unite behind the next leader of our party,’’ he said.
Former leader Julia Gillard tweeted: ''A tough night for Labor. But a spirited fight by Kevin, Albo, George + the whole team. My thoughts are with you all. JG''
9.54pm: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has conceded defeat in the election, but says Labor had fought the good fight.‘‘Geez I thought we’d lost,’’ a smiling Mr Rudd told the cheering crowd at the Labor function at the Gabba in Brisbane. In conceding defeat he congratulated Liberal leader Tony Abbott and wished him well. Mr Rudd said despite the ‘‘prophets of doom’’, Labor had remained a viable fighting force for the future and retained all its seats in Queensland and all cabinet ministers.
9pm: Anyone who thought Tony Abbott was unelectable has been proven foolish, former prime minister John Howard says. Mr Howard said Mr Abbott will do a fantastic job as prime minister. ‘‘All those ridiculous people who said he was unelectable should understand how foolish they were to underestimate him,’’ Mr Howard told the Seven Network.
8.51pm: Sitting ALP candidate Sharon Bird has attracted 63.17 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis in Cunningham with about 65 per cent of votes counted.
Ms Bird polled 29,258 first preference votes, a percentage loss of 3.42 per cent, while Liberal candidate Philip Clifford's 20,974 votes indicates a modest 0.42 per cent swing to the Liberals compared to last election.
On a two-party preferred basis, the Liberals look set to clip Ms Bird's margin by 3.2 per cent.
8.48pm: Labor frontbencher Jason Clare says Kevin Rudd should go as Labor leader, saying it’s time to put the Rudd and Gillard era behind the party.‘‘My view is it’s time for generational change,’’ Mr Clare told the Ten Network.‘‘We need to put the Rudd and the Gillard era behind us.’’
8.32pm: Former prime minister Julia Gillard’s old seat of Lalor looks likely to retained by the new Labor candidate Joanne Ryan. Ms Gillard used Twitter to send her congratulations, saying Ms Ryan would be a strong voice ‘‘for a proud community we both love’’.
8.13pm: Former Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce has claimed victory for the Nationals in the NSW seat of New England. A boisterous Mr Joyce thanked his staff and said ‘‘it was an incredibly humbling experience’’. Mr Joyce resigned from the upper house to contest New England which had been held by Independent MP Tony Windsor since 2001. Mr Windsor did not contest the election.
8.12pm: Voting has ended across the country, with polls now closed in Western Australia. Voting stopped across the eastern states at 6pm, with SA and the NT closing half an hour later. Exit polls showed a clear win to the Liberal-National coalition, and many Labor commentators have conceded.
8.10pm: Sitting ALP member Sharon Bird is poised to retain the seat of Cunningham having attracted almost half of first preference votes with more than 56 per cent of the vote counted.
Ms Bird's 25,466 first preference votes translates to 60.54 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. Liberal candidate Philip Clifford made a 2.63 per cent gain based on votes counted.
The Palmer United Party won 4.58 per cent (2597) first preference votes through candidate Christopher James Atlee while Greens candidate Helen Wilson's 7076 votes is a swing away from the party of 3.05 per cent.
7.41pm: The Liberal-National coalition is on track to hold more than 90 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, after a number of Labor MPs conceded the party had lost government. The Rudd Labor government was looking at a national swing against the party of 3.4 per cent. The Australian Electoral Commission has listed the Labor seats of Braddon (Tasmania), Lyons (Tasmania) and Page (NSW) as Coalition wins. Labor was listed as potentially gaining Leichhardt (Queensland) from the LNP. Nationally, Labor was in the lead in nine seats while the LNP was leading in 19 seats, with 122 still to be determined.
7.38pm: Clive Palmer has accused the Australian Electoral Commission of influencing the election result, and has flagged a possible High Court challenge.
Mr Palmer says the AEC is ‘‘openly predicting’’ the results of the election, and possibly influencing the election results in Western Australia and in South Australia, where booths are open after east coast venues have closed.
7.28pm: The federal Coalition will win government, a number of Labor MPs have conceded. Defence minister Stephen Smith was the first to admit Labor would lose at 6.05pm - minutes after polling booths closed in eastern Australia.
‘‘The government will be defeated tonight,’’ Mr Smith, who is retiring at this election, told ABC television on Saturday.
Labor would need to start rebuilding its stocks with a new generation of MPs, he added.
Labor Speaker Anna Burke said she had been feeling Labor wasn’t going to get over the line for the past two weeks.‘‘The Liberal Party will win this election,’’ she said.
7.25pm: Veteran Liberal senator Bill Heffernan has compared the mood in the Coalition camp to that in 1996, when John Howard became Prime Minister. Speaking 30 minutes after the end of voting in eastern Australia, Senator Heffernan said the feeling was reminiscent of that historic landslide win.
‘‘I recall at this stage in 1996 there was a wistful expectation or a hope that we were going into government,’’ Senator Heffernan said at the Liberals’ election night function in Sydney.
‘‘I well recall being with prime minister Howard before he became prime minister at the Intercontinental Hotel, quite nervous.
‘‘I guess Tony Abbott would be in the same position now.’’
7.05pm: With about 13 per cent of the vote counted in Cunningham, Sharon Bird has received 5,473, or 42.26 per cent, of first preference votes counted. Liberal candidate Philip Clifford has 4,354 (33.62 per cent). .
6.40pm: The very first results have started flowing in from Cunningham.
Four of the 55 booths have returned just 1.13 per cent of the seat’s votes, which means it is hard to say how reliable they will be as the night goes on.
So far, Labor’s Sharon Bird has received 46.67 per cent of the vote, with a swing of about one per cent towards her.
The Liberal candidate Philip Clifford has received 305 votes, or 27.85 per cent, and has recorded a swing of 2.49 per cent away from him.
The Greens Helen Wilson has 16.62 per cent of the vote and Christopher Atlee, from the Palmer United Party, has 3.47 per cent.
About 93 per cent of constituents voted formally, while the informal vote increased by 1.07 per cent to about 7 per cent.
6.12pm: Polling booths have closed across the eastern states, with exit polls are showing a clear win to Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National Coalition in the federal election.
But the Coalition is expected to fall short of a majority in the Senate. A Roy Morgan-Ten exit poll gives the coalition 43 per cent of the primary vote - a fraction short of the result in 2010.
Labor’s primary vote is 33.5 per cent - down 4.5 per cent on the 2010 result.
The biggest change from 2010 is the rises of the Palmer United Party, which has picked up five per cent of the primary vote across the country and nine per cent in Queensland.
4.35pm The Coalition is on track to return to government in a landslide, according to the The Sky News/Newspoll exit poll.
At 4pm the poll showed the opposition will win 97 seats, a 25-seat gain, while Labor will lose 21 seats and have only 51 MPs in parliament. It says the only crossbenchers to keep their seats would be Tasmanian Andrew Wilkie and Queenslander Bob Katter.
Greens MP Adam Bandt is predicted to lose the seat of Melbourne.The two-party preferred result, based on marginal seats in NSW and Queensland, gave the Coalition 53 per cent of the vote to Labor’s 47 per cent.
3.47pm Activitists in Tony Abbott’s electorate of Warringah knitted a giant pair of budgie smugglers to send a unique election day message to the Coalition leader.
'‘Budgie smugglers more threat to Australia than people smugglers,’’ said the writing on their four-metre banana hammock.The budgie smugglers were unfurled in front of the polling booths at St Mary’s Catholic Church hall in Manly. The Knit Your Revolt! group was forced to move across the road after pressure from volunteers.
Group spokeswoman Casey Jenkins said using a traditionally feminine craft to make a political statement against Mr Abbott was important.‘‘We want to draw attention to Abbott’s nature and attitude towards women, and the general attitude towards women that seems to be prevalent in the political sphere,’’ she said.
2.53pm PM Kevin Rudd arrived to vote in Brisbane, only to find himself labelled a ‘‘dictator’’ by refugee advocates and the family of a victim of the pink batts insulation debacle. Protesters against the federal government’s so-called Papua New Guinea Solution for asylum seekers hurled abuse at Mr Rudd.‘‘Stop scapegoating refugees, you heartless bastard,’’ a protester yelled at Mr Rudd as he tried to make his way up to the polling booths.The protesters chanted: ‘‘Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.’’
2.34pm Rumour has it Mount St Thomas Public School is offering a delicious sausage sizzle. Run, I repeat, run to the polls if you like a good BBQ!
2.31pm Greens candidate Helen Wilson will be at Balgownie Community Centre at 4pm.
2.30pm Sportsbet has decided the Coalition is likely to win at least 20 seats, increasing its position from 72 seats to at least 92 seats. It has low odds of $1.85 for the Coalition to win 91 of 100 seats. The odds drift out to $2.35 for the Coalition to pick up 100 or more seats.
1.42pm Thirroul ALP supporter Keith Woodward is 90-years-old and voting in his 67th election. He is supporting Sharon Bird in the northern suburbs.
1.40pm Have you enjoyed a particularly tasty sausage sizzle at your polling booth? Vote for it at electionsausagesizzle.com.au. The winner will be awarded the Golden Tongs when the votes are tallied on Monday. Vote with your tastebuds people!
1.30pm Kevin Rudd has just turned up at St Paul's in east Brisbane to cast his vote.
1.28pm Ms Tonkin has spotted Wollongong Labor councillor David Brown handing out for Sharon Bird at the Gwynneville polling booth. His prediction: "I expect the results here to be the same as last time." At the last federal election in 2010, Ms Bird secured 599 votes out of the 1312 cast at the Gwynneville booth while Liberal candidate Phillip Clifford received 364.
1.15pm Mercury reporter Shannon Tonkin is in Cunningham. She met Liberal supporter Chris Hunt, who fronted up to the Gwynneville booth at 7am, to begin adorning the public school's fence line with election posters. Mr Hunt said he had known the Liberal's candidate for Cunningham, Philip Clifford, for almost 50 years. "We went to school together at St Paul's at Bellambi," he said. "Phil's a top bloke and would make an excellent member for Cunningham." Mr Hunt said support for the Coalition had been strong at the booth. "I think people realise Wollongong needs a change.
1.10pm Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been jostled by angry protesters at a school in southern Sydney, forcing him to cut short plans to campaign at the polling booth.The opposition leader was surrounded by people screaming ‘‘You’re not welcome Tony’’, and ‘‘Go away Tony’’ at Athelstane Public School at Arncliffe. Mr Abbott could barely move in the crush, and after five minutes had to be ushered back into his car.The protesters were a mix of Labor supporters, refugee advocates, and backers of independent candidate Michael Nagi.
12.55pm Labor candidate Sharon Bird has cast her vote. She tweeted this morning:"best sausage sandwiches in Unanderra". Got to love an election day sausage sizzle!
12pm The Mercury's political reporter Kate McIlwain was shocked at how many of her friends knew very little about the federal election. Check out her thoughts on the importance of being an informed voter: ELECTION BLOG: A vote for being informed
11.30am Australian Greens leader Christine Milne has cast her vote, declaring her party can pick up seats in the Senate. The Greens leader voted at Hobart’s City Hall. She said the party’s success would be judged on whether it held seats, rather than on the 11.8 per cent of the vote it recorded at the 2010 poll. Senator Milne says the realisation among voters that Tony Abbott is likely to be elected prime minister will favour the Greens.‘‘I don’t think anyone in Australia would want to see Tony Abbott having absolute power,’’ she told reporters in Hobart.
11.20am Greens candidate Helen Wilson will be at Woonona East Public School at 11.30am. Before you cast your vote, check out what your candidates think on a range of issues - read the Mercury's 7 Questions in 7 Days - Cunningham here.
9.25am The latest Age/Nielsen survey suggests 54 per cent of the nation's 14.7 million electors are embracing the Coalition.Labor's primary vote has slumped to 33 per cent, with the Coalition on 46 per cent.
9.20am Labor candidate Sharon Bird will be casting her vote at Mt St Thomas Public School at 12pm.
9.15am Cunningham voters, if you're looking for something else to do on election day, why not head to Albion Park Airport at 10am to see Merimbula teen Ryan Campbell return from his world-record flight around the globe? There's a RAAF Roulette performance at 9.30am before Ryan flies in. Check it out!
8.30am The Mercury sends congratulations to Matthew Desborough and Brooke Robertson who are getting married in Wollongong's Market Square Garden at 11am. The pair had already voted in the election, heading to the polls early to avoid any additional stress on their wedding day! Congrats guys!
8.15am Greens candidate Helen Wilson is set to visit Bulli PCYC at 10am today.
8am Here are the list of candidates for Cunningham voters:
Phillip Clifford (Liberal)
Chris Atlee (Palmer United Party)
Helen Wilson (Greens)
Rob George (Christian Democratic Party)
Sharon Bird (ALP)
John Leslie Bursill (Katter's Australian Party)
John Flanagan (Non-Custodial Parents Party - Equal Parenting)
Are you looking for a polling booth near you? Check out the list of booths below:
Austinmer - Austinmer Anglican Church
Balgownie - Balgownie Public School or Balgownie Village Community Centre
Bellambi - Holy Spirit College
Bulli - Bulli Public School, Bulli PCYC or Bulli Hospital
Coalcliff - Coalcliff Community Hall
Coledale - Coledale Public School
Coniston - Coniston Public School
Cordeaux Heights - Unanderra Primary School
Corrimal - Corrimal Library
Corrimal East - Corrimal High School
Fairy Meadow - Fairy Meadow Demonstration School or Mt Ousley Public School
Figtree - Figtree High School or Figtree Heights Public School
Gwynneville - Gwynneville Public School
Helensburgh - Helensburgh Community Centre , Helensburgh Public School
Keiraville - Keiraville Public School
Mount Kembla - Mount Kembla Public School
Mount St Thomas - Mount Saint Thomas Primary School
Otford- Otford Public School
Russell Vale - Russell Vale Public School
Scarborough - Scarborough Wombarra Surf Life Saving Club or Scarborough Public School
Smith's Hill - Smith's Hill High School
Stanwell Park - Stanwell Park Anglican Church Hall
Sydney (Cunningham) - Sydney Town Hall
Tarrawanna - Tarrawanna Public School
Thirroul - St Michael's Primary School or the community centre
Towradgi- Towradgi Park Village
Unanderra (Cunningham) - St Pius X School Hall
Wollongong - Pioneer Hall, lIllawarra Institute Wollongong West, St Therese School Hall
Woonona - Woonona Public School, Woonona Guide Hall or Woonona East Public School
7.30am Good morning Illawarra voters! It's election day - have you cast your vote yet? The Mercury will be rolling out coverage of the election online throughout the day so keep your eyes on the website for regular updates.