Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has vowed to get straight back to work after a shock general election victory, which delivered the country three more years of conservative government.
The opposition Labour Party, meanwhile, began another bout of post-election soul searching while starting the task of finding a new leader, after Bill Shorten stood down on Saturday night following an emphatic defeat.
The centre-left Labour, which has governed Australia for only 38 of its 118 years as a federation, was rated an overwhelming favourite, both in opinion polls and with odds-makers, to topple the Liberal-National coalition government after its six years in power.
Instead, Mr Morrison — who became prime minister only last August when a contentious internal party vote dumped Malcolm Turnbull as its leader — swept the coalition to victory with what is likely to be an increased representation.
With 75% of votes counted by Sunday, the coalition had won 74 of the 76 seats needed to form a majority government. It went into the election as a minority government, with just 73 seats.
Labour was holding 66 seats, with independents and minor parties claiming six, according to calculations from the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Five seats were still in doubt.
While the possibility remained that the coalition would again form a minority government, Mr Shorten’s move to concede defeat late on Saturday night confirmed a resounding victory for the Morrison administration.
“I’ve always believed in miracles,” a beaming Mr Morrison told party supporters.
Speaking before attending church in his electorate in southern Sydney on Sunday morning, Mr Morrison thanked Australians for returning him to office.
“I give thanks to live in the greatest country in all the world,” he said. “Thanks again to all Australians all across the country.”
The 51-year-old, who received a congratulatory phone call from President Donald Trump earlier on Sunday, said that he was eager to return to work on Monday to form his new government.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re going to get back to work for the Australians that we know go to work every day, who face those struggles and trials every day,” he said.
“They’re looking for a fair go and they’re having a go and they’re going to get a go from our government.”