Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is seeking to lead the country's next government following national elections, said his party will be able to form a majority government in the next few days.
"Tonight, my friends, I can report that based on the advice I have from the party officials, we can have every confidence that we will form a coalition majority government in the next parliament," Turnbull told an audience of party workers and senior leaders in Sydney.
However he also conceded it has been a "very, very close count," with 30 per cent of votes yet to be counted.
The "final vote count will not be known for a few more days," he said, a little after midnight.
Around 80 per cent of the votes have been counted so far. Turnbull said the count would be stopped for the next two days, for unknown reasons.
The prime minister said the electoral commission would start counting the postal and absentee votes from Tuesday again, adding to the uncertainty over the next few days.
According to projections, the Turnbull-led coalition has failed to get an outright majority in the parliamentary elections, leading in 72 seats, four short of a majority, while the Labour Party, led by opposition leader Bill Shorten, is leading in 67 seats.
One went to the Greens, four to other independent candidates. Six seats were undetermined. The fight is for control of the majority of 150 seats in Australia's lower house of the parliament.
A hung parliament remained a possibility, Attorney General George Brandis said, but his colleague Treasurer Scott Morrisson said that the Liberal Party "will be able to form a majority government."
The "final vote count will not be know for a few more days," Turnbull said. "I am sure as the results are refined ... we will be able to form that majority government."
"The Labour Party does not have the capacity to form a stable majority government."
"Now is the time to unite in Australia's aid, in Australia's service, to ensure that we can have truly the very best years for our country ahead of us."
Earlier, Shorten also gave a speech to his party workers saying Turnbull can no longer promise stability with a government that's lost a clear mandate to govern.
"One thing is for sure, the Labor party is back," he said. "Whatever happens next week, Mr Turnbull will never be able to claim that the people of Australia have adopted his ideological agenda.
"He will never again be able to promise the stability which he has completely failed to deliver tonight."
Australia's politics has seen years of turmoil characterized by internal political feuds.
Turnbull came to power last year after ousting Tony Abbott in a Liberal Party coup, while Shorten took the Labor leadership after then prime minister Kevin Rudd lost the 2013 election to Abbott.
Turnbull led a coalition effort of center-right parties on an agenda of jobs and economic growth, while Shorten advocated for cheaper healthcare and education.
At one polling station in Bondi Beach Public School, Leo Schwarzmann, 54, stood in line with his wife and two puppies for more than an hour.
"I am a swing voter, not loyal to any parties. This time it's Malcolm Turnbull. I think he is more capable than other candidates to get the job done. He comes across as a reliable person," Schwarzmann said.
There are about 16 million registered voters in Australia. Voting is compulsory, and absconders are fined. In the last 2013 election the voter turnout was 93.2 per cent.
This year, around 3 million people have cast their ballot in early polls, while more than a million have posted their votes, according to Australian Electoral Commission.
Their spokesman said the turnout this year will be known only after a few days.
Saturday, July 2, 2016 - 11:35
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