Update: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd concedes election defeat

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  • (CNN) — Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd conceded election defeat Saturday after what exit polls suggest will be a landslide victory for conservative challenger Tony Abbott.

"A short time again I telephoned Tony Abbott to concede defeat at this national election," Rudd said at a party meeting in Brisbane.

"As prime minister of Australia, I wish him well in the high office of prime minister of this country."

According to a Sky News/Newspoll survey, Liberal leader Abbott is on course to win a large majority as voters swing away in large numbers from the ruling Labor party.

The win ends Labor’s six years in power, under Rudd and Julia Gillard who deposed each other in successive leadership challenges.

Before the vote, commentators said the Australian electorate had tired of the revolving door of Labor leaders, and were looking for change. "Rudd’s had his turn," one voter told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Back in June, Rudd’s Labor colleagues had hoped he’d bring the same magic to the polls demonstrated in 2007 when he defeated the former Liberal leader John Howard.

However, the early lift Rudd brought to the election race quickly faded, and in the final days of the campaign the Labor leader was vowing he’d fight to the end.

As he lodged his vote, Abbott said he wasn’t taking a win for granted. "Anything can happen," he said. "I don’t believe the polls, Kevin Rudd doesn’t believe the polls. I think it’s still very close."

Rudd kept a low profile on election day, prompting speculation about when he would turn up to vote. When he finally arrived at a polling station in Brisbane, hecklers shouted slogans slamming the government’s plan to send asylum seekers for offshore processing.


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