Australia's 14 million voters went to the poles in one of the most highly contested elections in many years.
A total of 1,198 candidates from 25 parties are competing for 150 seats in the House of Representatives, and 40 vacancies in the upper house Senate. Australians are waiting to see if first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard retains a majority of seats and achieves a mandate to govern.
But some electorates are cliff hangers with 78 percent of the vote counted, a hung parliament looks likely. The possible scenario is a minority government with a conservative administration backed by rural independents or a Labor government supported by one or two Greens or green-minded MPs.
Julia Gillard decided to go to the poles early after ousting the former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who's popularity was dropping. The close competition in this election has left the nation facing its first hung parliament since 1940.
[Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia]:
"Friends, Bill Clinton once famously said in a previous election in America the people have spoken but its going to take a little while to tell exactly what they said. And that is where we find ourselves tonight. Obviously this is too close to call..I will continue to lead the government and provide strong and stable government until the out come of the election is clearly known."
It is a remarkable night in Australian political history and also a night of firsts; with the first woman Prime Minister in Australia facing the poles, the first indigenous Australian winning a seat in Federal Parliament, the first election of a member of the Greens to the House of Representatives, and the youngest person, a 20 year old, ever to be elected into Federal Parliament.
Addressing Coalition supporters in Sydney, Tony Abbott Leader of the Opposition called it a night of pride in achievements.