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Australia`s Tony Abbott gets to work as Prime Minister-elect

Last Updated: Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 16:24

Melbourne: Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott on Sunday got "down to business" with a pledge to work for all Australians, a day after disillusioned voters punished the outgoing Premier Kevin Rudd`s Labor Party for its six years of turbulent rule and bitter in-fighting.

Saying he would not let voters down, the conservative leader vowed to govern for all Australians. "From today, I declare that Australia is under new management and open for business... We will not leave anyone behind."

His Liberal-National coalition yesterday defeated the Labor Party in the general election with a national swing of 3.5 per cent, seizing a swathe of seats in Tasmania, Victoria and across New South Wales.

The Australian Election Commission confirmed that the coalition had won 88 seats while Labor 57 in the 150-seat House of Representatives.

"This is essentially a working day," Abbott told reporters outside his Sydney home. "People expect that, the day after an election, an incoming government will be getting down to business. And that`s what I`ll be doing today."

The 55-year-old Liberal Party leader has since attended his first meetings with the nation`s most senior public servants - the heads of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Finance and Treasury departments.

In brief opening remarks, he told them he is an optimist about the economy but also wants to move quickly to implement his policies. "Obviously a very early item of business is scrapping the carbon tax," he said.

He assured the departmental heads he is up to the job.

"I`ve had a long experience of working with senior levels of the public service as employment minister," he said.

"Obviously I had some economic role so and then as health minister I was responsible for a USD 40 billion-a-year-plus budget."

Labor Party, on the other hand, is searching for a new leader after outgoing Prime Minister Rudd declared last night that he would not recontest the post he seized back from Julia Gillard.

Rudd had called the election as he defeated Australia`s first woman premier Gillard in a bitterly fought leadership ballot in June, after she did the same to him in 2010.

Meanwhile, vote counting for the Senate would continue with new minor parties likely to play a key role in the Senate.

The billionaire Clive Palmer-led Palmer United Party, which had few Indian origin members this year, is likely to pick up two spots in Queensland and Tasmania.

The WikiLeaks Party did not pick up any seats and founder Julian Assange said he is still pleased with its performance in the election.

"The party was registered exactly three months ago and we are the second largest vote count for the new parties after Clive Palmer`s party, which had a million bucks behind it," he said.

Greens MP Adam Bandt retained his seat of Melbourne, while the party also looks like gaining a Victorian senate seat, despite a slump in the party`s national vote.

According to AAP news agency, the new projections have disclosed that the coalition could get three senators in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, two in South Australia and Tasmania and one each in the ACT and NT, leaving it with an unchanged national total of 34.

Labor is set to hold two seats in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, with one each in the ACT, NT and South Australia, giving it a total of 26, down five from its current standing.

NT Labor senator-elect Nova Peris will be the first indigenous woman in parliament. The Palmer United Party could pick up a second seat, with Jacqui Lambie in Tasmania.

Independent Nick Xenophon will be returned in South Australia where Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young`s place remains in doubt.


First Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 16:03
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