VOTERS could be heading back to the polls within a year with Labor vowing to block the Coalition's plans to scrap the carbon tax.
Even as voters elected Tony Abbott to the nation's most powerful office on Saturday night, a showdown over the Coalition's key election promise was looming, with a double-dissolution election a distinct possibility.
Despite a clear majority in the House of Representatives, Mr Abbott still faces the hurdle of a diverse and unpredictable Senate.
Mr Abbott last week said it was "unimaginable" that Labor would defy his "election mandate" that the tax be repealed.
But a defiant Bill Shorten, tipped as a possible successor to Kevin Rudd, said Labor "believes" in a price on carbon".
The issue will be a key one for the ALP, after the party's perceived inconsistency, and Mr Abbott's framing of the election as "a referendum on the carbon tax".
But Mr Shorten said Labor had "a mandate from its supporters to be true to its values", indicating he believes the ALP would fight any moves to repeal the tax.
Mr Abbott has previously threatened to take the country to a double dissolution if Labor votes down the changes.
The Prime Minister-elect met with senior public officials on Sunday, declaring his first priority was to scrap the carbon tax .
Mr Abbott said his would be a "no surprises, no excuses government" that would deliver on its commitments.
"We won't be perfect, no government ever is, but when we get it wrong, we'll admit it and when we make a mistake, we will learn from it," he said.
Mr Abbott led the Coalition to a convincing 15-seat victory over Labor, declaring the country was "under new management" .
He also pledged to start the Coalition's promised hard-line approach to asylum-seekers, Operation Sovereign Borders.
Mr Abbott promised work would continue on the Pacific and Bruce highways and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, as well as starting a Productivity Commission inquiry on child care.
In Labor's ranks, Kevin Rudd's defeat and subsequent resignation as ALP parliamentary leader has re-opened Labor leadership speculation.
Just after 9.30pm on Saturday, Mr Rudd told the true believers he would not be contesting the leadership in opposition.
"I have taken this decision with a heavy heart because I love this movement," he said.
"But the time has come for renewal - I gave it my all, but it was not enough for us to win," Mr Rudd said.
Names already circulating in Labor ranks to assume the leadership include Anthony Albanese, Chris Bowen, Bill Shorten, Tony Burke and Jason Clare.
Key seats to change hands on Saturday included Page and New England in New South Wales, and Fisher in Queensland.
Labor's Janelle Saffin lost Page to Kevin Hogan, while Barnaby Joyce successfully moved from the Senate to the lower house, winning New England.
Former Howard government minister Mal Brough also won his electoral fight against embattled former speaker Peter Slipper, who performed dismally as an independent after a controversial final term.
Central Queensland's big seat of Capricornia was still in doubt, with the result on a knife-edge competition between second-time LNP candidate Michelle Landry and Labor's Peter Freeleagus.
The creation of Katter's Australian Party failed to increase Bob Katter's influence in parliament, with the Member for Kennedy facing off a 15% swing against him to retain his seat.
Colourful Mining magnate Clive Palmer came from nowhere to claim more than 27% of the vote in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, but whether he can beat LNP's Ted O'Brien remains unclear.
Palmer's United Party also successfully wedged the two major parties in the Queensland Senate, with candidate Glenn Lazarus likely to win a Senate spot.
Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie's late burst onto the federal election scene petered out at the hands of LNP Forde encumbent Bert Van Manen.
In the Northern Territory, former Olympian Nova Perris is set to become the first indigenous senator in Canberra.
The situation so far: Coalition gains
- Corangamite ... (Vic)
- Deakin ... (Vic)
- Robertson ... (NSW)
- Lindsay ... (NSW)
- Banks ... (NSW)
- La Trobe ... (Vic)
- Page ... (Nationals - NSW))
- Hindmarsh ... (SA)
- Bass ... (Tas)
- Braddon ... (Tas)
- Lyons ... (Tas)
- Lyne ... (Nationals - NSW)
- New England ... (Nationals - NSW)
Seats in doubt
- Capricornia ... (ALP ahead)
- Barton ... (ALP ahead)
- Dobell ... (Lib ahead)
- Eden-Monaro ... (Lib ahead)
- Fairfax ... (PUP ahead)
- Indi ... (Lib ahead)
- McEwen ... (ALP ahead)
- Parramatta ... (ALP ahead)
- Petrie ... (LNP ahead)
- Reid ... (Lib ahead)
- Solomon ... (CLP ahead)
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.