Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat after an election on Saturday, and the opposition Labor Party was poised to end almost a decade of conservative rule, possibly with the support of pro-environment independents.
The Liberal-National coalition of Morrison had been punished by voters in Western Australia and affluent urban seats in particular, according to partial results.
Tonight, I spoke to the leader of the Opposition and the incoming prime minister, Anthony Albanese. I've congratulated him on his election victory this evening, Morrison said, stepping down as leader of his party. Labor had yet to reach the 76 of the 151 lower house seats required to form a government alone. The count of the record number of postal votes is going to take time to complete the final results.
A strong showing by the Greens and a group of so-called teal independents who campaigned for policies of integrity, equality and tackling climate change means that the composition of the new parliament looks set to be much less climate-sceptic than the one that supported Morrison's pro-coal mining administration.
Centre-left Labor had held a decent lead in opinion polls, but recent surveys showed that the Liberal-National government narrowed the gap in the final stretch of a six week campaign.
A Newspoll survey by The Australian newspaper showed Labor's lead over the ruling coalition dipping to 53 - 47 on a two-party preferred basis, where votes for unsuccessful candidates are redistributed to the top two contenders.
In five affluent Liberal-held seats, the so-called teal independents looked poised to win, tapping voter anger over inaction on climate change after some of the worst floods and fires hit Australia.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it would be difficult for him to hold the long-held Liberal seat of Kooyong in Melbourne to an independent newcomer to one of the biggest hits to the government.
Three volunteers who worked for teal independent Monique Ryan, who challenged Frydenberg, said they joined Ryan's campaign because they were concerned about the climate for the sake of their children and grandchildren.
Charlotte Forwood, a working mother of three adult children, said it was like this election felt hopeful.
Early returns suggested that the Greens had also made ground, looking to pick up to three seats in Queensland.
Greens leader Adam Bandt, who retained his inner city Melbourne seat, said climate was a major issue for voters.
There was an attempt by Labor and Liberal to bury it, and we were very clear about the need to tackle climate by tackling coal and gas. Morrison and Albanese cast their votes in Sydney earlier in the day after making whistle-stop tours across marginal seats in the final two days of a campaign dominated by rising living costs, climate change and integrity.
Morrison made the country's lowest unemployment in nearly half a century the centrepiece of his campaign's final hours as Labor focused on spiking inflation and sluggish wage growth.