Labor leader Anthony Albanese is on course to govern in a minority as Australian voters have deserted the two major parties in favor of the Independents and the Greens.
As the vote count continued, at 9:30 p.m. Labor was in the lead with 73 seats, compared to 54 for the Liberal-National coalition.
“We expect to be able to form a government and hope to be able to form a majority government,” a spokesperson told AAP on Saturday evening.
The crossbench will consist of at least 13 people, with the remaining 11 seats uncertain.
With 40% of the votes counted, the coalition was on 35% of the primary votes against 31.6% for Labor.
The Greens sat with 12.6% of the vote in the primaries, while the independents held just under 6%.
The most likely outcome on current trends is a Labor minority government.
Labor’s most high-profile loss is NSW’s first female MP and former premier, Kristina Keneally, who was seeking a move from the Senate to Fowler’s lower house seat.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg looked set to lose his Kooyong seat but was not conceding.
Official figures showed Labor incumbents trailing in Gilmore and Lyon, while Liberals trailed in Wentworth, Chisholm, Brisbane, Mackellar, Higgins, Reid, Robertson, Ryan, Boothby, Sturt, Deakin, Pearce, Hasluck, Curtin and Swan.
Labor could lose Griffith’s seat in Brisbane to the Greens.
Labor leader Jim Chalmers said a majority Labor government was “still possible”, but he did not believe the coalition could hold on to power.
“There are a lot of results where second place and third place are not absolutely determined,” he told the ABC.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the coalition had lost the ‘are you in touch’ question in many electorates, while Labor had ‘failed to win the best able to govern’.
“That’s why we’re seeing a situation where our vote is down significantly, but the Labor Party, which could form government tonight, has its lowest primary vote since 1919 at this point.”
Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said his party had not “escaped judgement” in the election.
Labor MP Tanya Plibersek said it appeared many people who had voted Liberal in the past had opted for Independent or even Green candidates in the Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne seats.
“These are people who have always voted Liberal in the past,” she said.
“It’s a big leap for someone who has always voted Liberal to make the leap to the Labor Party.
“These voters are trying to send a message that climate change matters to them, a national integrity commission with teeth matters to them, and equality for women.”
Independent Warringah MP Zali Steggall, who appeared to be on track to take her seat in Sydney, said she expected more independents from the community to be elected.
“People are really frustrated,” she said.
“Communities are turning to alternatives to big parties.”
Former Liberal cabinet minister Christopher Pyne had earlier predicted a Labor victory, expecting the party to secure numbered seats in the “high 70s”.
“If we win today it will be very surprising,” Mr Pyne told the Seven Network.
“The work will win but, I think things have tightened up a lot over the past six weeks and what looked like a blowout…is obviously a lot closer.”
The two main party leaders will attend receptions in Sydney on Saturday evening.