Australia’s opposition has crushed the governing Labour party


Liberal leader Tony Abbott

Australia’s opposition has crushed the governing Labour party in a general election that has returned the Liberal-National coalition to power for the first time in six years.

The coalition was on course to win 88 seats, compared with 57 for Labour.

Liberal leader Tony Abbott said he looked forward to forming a competent and trustworthy government.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd earlier admitted defeat and said he would not stand again for the Labour leadership.

The main election issues were how to tackle an expected economic slow-down, whether to keep a tax on carbon emissions, and how to reduce the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Rudd called the election after defeating Julia Gillard in a leadership challenge in June, amid dismal polling figures that showed Labour on course for a wipe-out.

Under Rudd, Labour initially saw its figures improve. But Abbott, who enjoyed the strident support of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, then widened the gap again.

“From today I declare Australia is under new management and Australia is now open for business”, Abbott told a cheering crowd as he delivered a victory speech.

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