UK & World News
Abbott Wins: Australia 'Under New Management'
Tony Abbott has declared victory in Australia's general election after defeating prime minister Kevin Rudd.
Mr Abbott, the British-born leader of the Liberal Party-led coalition opposition has ended six years of Labor rule.
In his victory speech Mr Abbott said: "I can inform you that the government of Australia has changed. For just the seventh time in 60 years the government of Australia has changed.
"I declare that Australia is under new management and is once again open for business.
"I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy, and which purposely and steadfastly and methodically set about delivering on our commitments."
Earlier, in Brisbane, Mr Rudd conceded defeat. "A short time again I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at this national election," he said. "As prime minister of Australia, I wish him well in the high office of prime minister of this country."
With 80% of the votes counted, the Australian Electoral Commission showed Mr Abbott's party was leading in 88 seats in the House of Representatives, to Labor's 56.
Mr Rudd said Labor had "fought the good fight".
He added: "Tonight is the time to unite as the great Australian nation.
"Because whatever our politics may be we are all first and foremost Australian and the things that unite us are more powerful than the things that divide us, which is why the world marvels at Australia."
He added: "I will not be recontesting the leadership of the parliamentary Labor Party. The Australian people I believe deserve a fresh start with our leadership."
Defence minister Stephen Smith told the ABC broadcaster: "Pessimistically, I'm looking at a result which will be a 1996-type result, a heavy defeat for the government," he added, referring to the election which brought Liberal leader John Howard to power.
Labor has been marred by relentless infighting - which saw Mr Rudd oust Australia's first female prime minister Julia Gillard in June - leaving the public frustrated and disillusioned.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said: "The clear take-out from this definitely is that disunity is death and we are not disciplined enough. I don't think the division or the pain was justified at any stage."
Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke said personality politics had been allowed to overtake the party's message and policies.
"The personal manipulations and pursuits of interest have dominated more than they should and in the process the concentration on values has slipped.
"I really believe this was an election that was lost by the government rather than one that was won by the opposition."
Early poll numbers suggested big swings against the government in the key states of New South Wales and Queensland after more than 14.7 million electors took part in the mandatory ballot across the country.
During the five-week campaign, Mr Abbott gradually overtook once-popular Mr Rudd.
The growing number of asylum seekers has been a major theme in the election. Labor promised that every bona fide refugee who attempts to reach Australia by boat would be settled on Papua New Guinea or Nauru.
The Liberals promised new policies requiring the navy to turn asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia, where they launch, and the government to buy back ageing fishing boats from Indonesian villagers to prevent them falling into the hands of people smugglers.
Mr Abbott has also vowed to scrap a controversial carbon tax and instead introduce taxpayer-funded incentives for polluters to operate cleaner.
Mr Abbott was born in London and moved with his parents to Sydney at the age of two. Later, he returned to England to study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
Mr Abbott has been in Parliament for almost two decades, and for a time was health minister.
He trained briefly as a priest, is a fitness fanatic famous for wearing tight swimming trunks and also volunteers for Australia's Rural Fire Service.
Deeply religious, some of his more conservative views on issues such as abortion and gay marriage have not pleased some.
Questions have also been asked about his attitude towards women with Ms Gillard famously labelling him a misogynist in a heart-felt speech in Parliament.