|Tony Abbott defeats Kevin Rudd. Getty Images|
TONY Abbott has declared the nation "open for business" once again, vowing to lead a competent and trustworthy government for all Australians.
Claiming election victory in Sydney, he said he was proud and humbled as he shouldered the responsibility of government.
“I pledge myself to the service of our country,” the Prime Minister-elect told supporters tonight.
“I give you this assurance. We will not let you down.”
Mr Abbott becomes the nation's 28th prime minister after confirmed victories in Tasmania, NSW and Victoria, although the margin was not as great as originally thought.
The incoming Abbott government is likely to have an estimated 90 seats and Labor at least 55.
“From today I declare Australia is under new management and is once more open for business,” Mr Abbott said.Kevin Rudd conceded defeat about 9.45pm (AEST), urging the nation to unite behind Mr Abbott but declaring he had preserved Labor as a “viable fighting force for the future”.
Mr Abbott said the Australian people had emphatically demonstrated that it was they who determined the nation's prime minister, and would punish anyone who took them for granted.
He said his government would methodically and purposefully set about delivering on its election commitments.
“In a week or so the Governor-General will swear in a new government; a government that says what it means and means what it says, a government of no surprises, and no excuses, a government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential. And a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words.”
He said within three years, the carbon tax would be gone, the boats would be stopped, the budget would be back on track to a surplus and the “roads of the 21st century will finally be underway”.
Mr Abbott said he would govern for all Australians, including those who had voted for Labor.
“We will not leave anyone behind,” he said.
He thanked deputy leader Julia Bishop, Nationals Leader Warren Truss, treasury spokesman Joe Hockey, and his entire parliamentary team.
He paid tribute to the Coalition premiers, and singled out campaign director Brian Loughnane and chief of staff Peta Credlin for special mention.
He said Ms Credlin was “the smartest and the fiercest political warrior I have ever worked with”, while her husband, Mr Loughnane, had run the Coalition's best-ever campaign.
He thanked his family for supporting him throughout his public life, and the voters of Warringah for electing him for the eighth time.
“But most of all, I thank you the people of Australia, who have just given me the greatest honour and the heaviest responsibility that any member of parliament can have,” Mr Abbott said.
He said the time for campaigning had passed, and the time for government had arrived.
“I pledge myself to the service of our country,” Mr Abbott said.
To rapturous applause before a packed ballroom at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney, Mr Abbott told Liberal supporters that the Coalition had clearly won 13 seats and 10 seats were still in play.
Liberal sources said they were optimistic that pre-poll votes could deliver the majority of the seats still in play to the Liberal Party, pulling them from 85 seats to the mid-90s.
With more than 70 per cent of the vote counted in many east coast electorates, Labor appears to have lost Banks, Lindsay, Page and Robertson in NSW, while failing to pick up Craig Thomson's old seat of Dobell, which fell to the Liberal party.
The Nationals also picked up New England and Lyne, which were formerly held by independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.
Key Labor frontbenchers Chris Bowen and Jason Clare retained their Sydney seats - a good result for the party's future.
But Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury conceded defeat in the western Sydney seat of Lindsay to Liberal Fiona Scott, the candidate described by Mr abbott as having “sex appeal”.
In Queensland, Labor appears to have lost Capricornia and Petrie. But Mr Rudd has seen off a challenge by former AMA president Bill Glasson in Griffith, while former treasurer Wayne Swan retained his seat of Lilley and Jim Chalmers kept Craig Emerson's old seat of Rankin for Labor.
In Tasmania, Labor has lost three seats - Bass, Braddon and Lyons - to the Liberal Party.
In Victoria, Labor has lost Corangamite, Deakin and La Trobe to the Liberals.
The Liberals have picked up Hindmarsh in South Australia, while in Queensland, the LNP appears to have won Capricornia and Petrie from Labor.
Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie said he was still in with a chance in the seat of Forde, with the result set to come down to 8500 pre-polls.
Solomon in the Northern Territory is also a possible gain for the Country Liberal Party.
In a possible upset in the seat of Fairfax, businessman Clive Palmer looks set to beat LNP candidate Ted O'Brien.
Greens MP Adam Bandt has retained his seat in Melbourne, while Bob Katter appears to have clung on in Kennedy despite a 16 per cent swing against him.
In Western Australia, former state minister Alannah MacTiernan succeeded in her second tilt at federal politics, retaining the seat of Perth for Labor.
Former prime minister John Howard said Mr Abbott had delivered a “resounding verdict”.
“I can't speak too highly of what a wonderful job Tony Abbott has done,” he said.
“He's been a splendid leader of my party, and all those ridiculous people who said he was unelectable, they should understand how foolish they were to underestimate him.”
Earlier, Mr Rudd declared he would not stand for the Labor leadership, and called for the party to unite behind a new leader.
The frontrunner to become opposition leader, Bill Shorten, warned the Coalition Labor was not about to accept Mr Abbott's claimed mandate to axe the carbon price.
“I don't believe anyone in Labor is going to walk away from the issue of putting a price on carbon pollution,” he told Network Ten.