Australia election: Ruling conservatives on course for 'miracle' victory while anti-Muslim senator loses seat

Sen. Fraser Anning, who was egged by a teen for anti-Muslim comments after the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand, lost his seat in Saturday's general election.
Image: Scott Morrison Claims Victory In 2019 Australian Federal Election
"Tonight is not about me or it's not about even the Liberal party. Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first," said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.Tracey Nearmy / Getty Images

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By Linda Givetash and Reuters

Australia's Liberal-led conservative government was headed for a remarkable victory at the national election early on Sunday after uncovering a narrow path to victory that twisted through urban fringes and rural townships.

The results upended pre-election polls which predicted a Labor victory, though it is unclear whether the coalition can govern with an outright majority or will need to negotiate support from independents.

"I have always believed in miracles," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told cheering supporters in Sydney.

The final result may not be known for some time, but the outcome of many individual races — including the defeat of a right-wing senator who was famously egged by a teen over anti-Muslim comments — was clear.

Sen. Fraser Anning, who sits as an independent, has been widely criticized for blaming Muslim immigration for racist attacks on two New Zealand mosques that claimed at least 50 lives. He also invoked the term "final solution" in a call to restrict Muslim immigration to Australia last year.

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His comments prompted 17-year-old Will Connolly to crack an egg over his head. Anning retaliated, striking the teen twice. Neither Anning nor Connolly was charged in the incident.

But the country's center-left had little to cheer in Saturday's results.

Opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten conceded defeat to Morrison as the votes were tallied.

"It is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government and so, in the national interest, a short while ago, I called Scott Morrison to congratulate him," Shorten told supporters late Saturday night in Melbourne.

Labor had been campaigning hard on more ambitious targets to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

Morrison is the conservatives' third prime minister since they were first elected in 2013. He replaced Malcolm Turnbull in a leadership ballot of government colleagues in August.

Late Saturday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. called 74 seats in the 151-seat lower parliamentary house as wins for Morrison's conservative Liberal-National party coalition, with 65 seats to Labor and 12 undecided.

A total of 76 seats are needed to form a majority government.

Morrison's coalition defied expectations by holding onto a string of outer suburban seats in areas where demographics closest resemble America's Rust Belt, blocking Labor's path to victory.