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“We’ve won” declares Pyne … but Turnbull still cautious

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Senior South Australian Liberal Christopher Pyne boldly claimed this morning that the Coalition had won the election, but Malcolm Turnbull says he won’t be declaring victory until the counting result is “plain”.

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With counting to continue over the weekend, the Coalition appears on track to win 77 seats in the 150-seat lower house and is expected to have the support of four independents for supply and confidence.

Frontbencher Pyne described his party as an “election-winning machine”, telling the Nine Network:

“We have won again.

“That’s our sixth victory out of eight in the last 20 years.”

However, Turnbull – who is in Melbourne to meet with new Liberal MPs and talk to independent Cathy McGowan – said it was just Pyne being “naturally optimistic and confident”.

“I’m the Prime Minister; we’ve had an election and Australians have voted,” Turnbull said.

“We respect the votes that have been cast and one way to show that respect is by waiting for the counting to be completed … to the point where the decision is plain.”

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the final outcome was still unknown.

“Notwithstanding Christopher’s quite amazing spin there, the election campaign was a disaster for Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition,” Albanese said.

The Sydney MP was due to meet with caucus colleagues in Canberra at noon AEST today, with the Labor leadership on the agenda.

Albanese, who unsuccessfully ran against Bill Shorten in the 2013 ballot, said there would be only one candidate this time around.

“That candidate will be Bill Shorten.”

The leadership will be open for nomination until next Friday.

However, the caucus will pass a motion giving Shorten the authority to negotiate with crossbenchers – effectively re-endorsing his leadership without curtailing the spill process.

Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie is the latest crossbencher to come out in support of supply and confidence in the Coalition Government.

However, he said he would take away that support in the case of malfeasance.

Turnbull said he wanted to have an open working relationship with crossbenchers and a parliament that “is perhaps, if not united on every measure, at least united in the determination to serve the Australian people in a constructive and positive way over the next three years”.

Pyne claimed the Queensland seat of Forde for the coalition, where sitting MP Bert van Manen leads Labor’s Des Hardman by 687 votes.

He also believes it is likely to win Herbert, Capricornia and Flynn – where the ALP are all in front, but by margins of less than 700 votes.

Wins in the South Australian seat of Hindmarsh and WA’s Cowan were an “outside chance”, he said.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said her party needed to be ready for another election “sooner rather than later”, given the close result and potential for an unstable parliament.

With more than 11.6 million votes counted, the two-party figure sat on 50-50 based on a 3.49 per cent swing against the government.

The seat count so far is 73 for the coalition, 66 Labor, one Greens, four independent and six in doubt: Capricornia, Cowan, Forde, Herbert, Hindmarsh and Flynn.

-AAP

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