How Labor lost the unloseable election
OLDER Australians have turned on Labor over its controversial plan to scrap franking credits, causing an election nightmare for Bill Shorten.
Labor insiders admitted the policy to remove generous share tax refunds - paid mostly to retirees - was "killing us" in Queensland and New South Wales.
The Opposition had banked $58 billion in savings over the decade from the tax overhaul to spend on its major election commitments, prompting a fierce government campaign focused on older voters.
While Labor had hoped to pick up seats in Queensland, it instead last night witnessed big swings against it.
It was set to lose key seats of Herbert and Longman as Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson's parties were also blamed for cannibalising the Opposition's vote.
A senior Labor source said the party's ambitious policy agenda had exposed its candidates to a series of risks across marginal seats.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek added the party's broad agenda could have been overwhelming for some voters. "It was a very big and bold agenda," she said.
The Tasmanian seats of Bass and Braddon - where Scott Morrison campaigned hard in the final days - were also set to swing to the government, despite Labor's confidence in the state.
The Prime Minister campaigned in Tasmania early yesterday before voting in Sydney.
Hundreds of Labor supporters flocked to the party's election night event in Melbourne expecting a convincing win.
But the mood significantly shifted as the results came in with the only cheers reserved for the defeat of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in his Sydney seat of Warringah.
The Opposition Leader earlier declared that he was expecting "a strong finish from the Labor side".
"I'm actually confident … I feel confident Labor can form a majority," Mr Shorten said. "I feel a mood for a change."
Labor drastically scaled back its campaign in the final two days after the death of legendary former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Mr Shorten cancelled a planned marginal state blitz through Queensland on Friday, instead visiting Sydney to pay his respects to Mr Hawke's wife Blanche d'Alpuget.
He then drank at his favourite watering hole in Melbourne with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and former state leader Steve Bracks.
Senior Labor senator Penny Wong conceded that Queensland loomed as "a very tough result" for the Opposition.
Mr Shorten focused on Victoria yesterday and while Labor was set to pick up at least four seats, the Opposition was unable to secure the big swings it wanted to be competitive in the Liberal Party's heartland in Melbourne's east.
Labor frontbencher Brendan O'Connor said Mr Shorten would be feeling "anxious about the outcome" as results came in.
"We put everything into this … it's disappointing," he said.
The senior MP said the minor parties had dragged votes away from Labor.
"I think that's in part due to the massive spend by Clive Palmer and One Nation on preferencing to the government," Mr O'Connor said.
Mr Shorten emailed supporters after the polls closed, saying: "Wherever we stand after all the votes have been counted tonight, I stand behind the vision we have put to the Australian people in this election campaign."
But government campaign spokesman Simon Birmingham said: "Bill Shorten always saw this election as a coronation tour and underestimated the extent to which Australians may reject higher taxes and wasteful government spending."
"Whatever the final result there is egg on the face for Labor who took for granted the Australian people," Senator Birmingham said.