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Fallout postponed as hung parliament looms

It will take a little longer than expected for the pin to drop in Canberra, with the final result of the weekend’s Federal Election too close to call, and voting stalled until Tuesday.

Millions of voters took to the voting booths on Saturday, July 2, but by the end of the day, no clear victor had emerged.

With 76 seats needed in the House of Representatives to form a Government, the Liberal/National Party (the Coalition) looks to have won 65 seats, and the Labor Party appears to have won 67.

The ABC has called one seat for the Greens, one for Nick Xenophon’s party, and a further three for independents.

While 13 seats remain in doubt, many analysts are predicting that neither of the major parties will form a majority government on their own, and horse-trading between the majors, the smaller parties and independents will be needed before a government can be formed.

But incumbent prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was confident at his Sunday press conference, saying postal votes – which are counted towards the end of the process – would lean more heavily towards the Coalition, swinging the result in that party’s favour.

“Like all of us, Australians would have no doubt preferred a clearer outcome last night,” Turnbull said.

“I remain quietly confident that a majority Coalition government will be returned at this election when the counting is completed.”

The Australian Electoral Commission put counting on hold late on Saturday night, with less than 80% of votes so far counted. Work will resume on Tuesday.

“The reason the result was not clear last night was that around a third of Australians voted in pre-polling or via a postal vote,” the prime minister continued. “That will determine the result in as many as 12 undecided seats.

“Our experience is that these postal votes and pre-poll votes, indeed, traditionally favour Liberal and National Party candidates, especially when they are incumbents,” he added.

“So, if that trend were to be manifest again here, that is likely to deliver majority government to the Coalition, but time will tell.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten took a different approach to the drama, saying the voters had sent a clear message to the prime minister, by making his policies the “clear loser” of the election.

“What I’m very sure of is that whilst we don’t know who the winner was, there’s clearly one loser: Malcolm Turnbull’s agenda for Australia and his efforts to cut Medicare,” Shorten said.

The incumbent Opposition leader said Labor would work with the Coalition and other parties to find “common ground” on major issues.

He encouraged Turnbull to “go back to being the centrist he used to be before he rolled Tony Abbott,” adding, “I have no doubt there is some common ground we can work with them.”