Scott Morrison has swept to victory in a sensational Australian federal election result that defied the polls and cements the Coalition's power.

The Coalition is on track to win government, fending off Labor and Bill Shorten's efforts to take over as prime minister.

As it stands, the Coalition is headed to form a minority government at least, but could still reach the 76 seats needed to form a majority government. There is no longer any path to victory for Labor.

The Coalition appears so far to have won 74 seats. Labor has won 65. The Greens, Centre Alliance and Katter's Australia Party have all taken one seat each. Four seats remain in doubt.

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In a jubilant victory speech at the Liberal Party official election night function at Sydney's Sofitel Wentworth hotel, Mr Morrison acknowledged the surprise win saying, "I have always believed in miracles".

The Prime Minister said Shorten had contacted him to concede defeat, and said he thanked the Labor leader for his "kind remarks to me and Jenny".

"I would like to wish him and Chloe and his family all the best and God's blessings," he said.

On stage with his wife Jenny and two daughters, Morrison said he was standing with "the three biggest miracles of my life".

"And tonight we've been delivered another one!" he said.

"How good is Australia! And how good are Australians!"

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the Auckland Writers Festival this morning she had texted her congratulations to Morrison but she hadn't had a chance to phone him yet.

Shorten called on Labor's supporters to respect the election result, revealing he is standing down as leader of the party in the wake of its defeat.

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"I know that you're all hurting. And I am too," he told supporters in Melbourne just after 11:30pm Australian time.

"It is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government. And so, in the national interest, a short time ago I called Scott Morrison to congratulate him.

"I wish Jenny and their daughters all the very best, and above all, I wish Scott Morrison good fortune and good courage in the service of our great nation.

"Now that the contest is over, all of us have a responsibility to respect the result, respect the wishes of the Australian people and to bring our nation together.

"However, that task will be one for the next leader of the Labor Party, because while I intend to continue to serve as the member for Maribyrnong, I will not be a candidate in the next leadership ballot."

The bombshell triumph for Morrison came after repeated polls placed the ALP ahead of the Government, and the Prime Minister's demise appeared assured.

Swings to the Coalition in Queensland turned the election on its head as early figures suggested the Government could hold on.

Labor scrutineers told news.com.au older voters punished the party for its higher-taxing agenda.

States where the economy is not thriving – such as Queensland, WA and country areas – backed the Liberals' agenda focused on the economy and jobs.

"A bold agenda is now dead forever in Australia," a Labor scrutineer says as it became clear the election was turning against Shorten.

As the votes came in confidence began to grown among Liberal surporters. At the official Liberal Party function in Sydney exuberant young Liberal supporters were heard chanting that the Liberals were "an election-winning machine".

Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten and his wife Chloe eat a sausage sandwich on a federal election day in Melbourne. Photo / AP
Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten and his wife Chloe eat a sausage sandwich on a federal election day in Melbourne. Photo / AP

"Labor used to be party for the workers, now it's a party for people who don't work," one said.

Although former PM Tony Abbott lost his seat of Warringah to independent Zali Steggall, the Wentworth by-election result was reversed, with Liberal Dave Sharma reclaiming the old seat of Malcolm Turnbull from the woman who defeated him in October, Dr Kerryn Phelps.

But the swing against Labor in Queensland was devastating.

The Australian's columnist Troy Bramston says Labor figures are "stunned and shocked" at the result, which pretty much nobody expected.

"It looks like a diabolical night for the party," Bramston said.

ABC political editor Andrew Probyn said Labor sources told him their chances were "killed" by the Coalition's preference deals with Clive Palmer's United Australia Party and Pauline Hanson's One Nation.

Results then began flowing in from the west.

Labor's Anny Aly held on in the West Australian seat of Cowan while Patrick Gorman retained the seat of Perth.

The Liberal Party won Swan, with Steve Irons being re-elected.

And Attorney-General Christian Porter has won his tough race in Pearce. Fellow minister Ken Wyatt has held on in Hasluck.

Labor gained Chisolm in Victoria. That's the seat former Liberal Julia Banks held, before deciding to contest Flinders instead. Health Minister Greg Hunt defeated her there.

Tony Abbott conceded defeat in his seat. Photo / File
Tony Abbott conceded defeat in his seat. Photo / File

The Nationals have held Cowper, fending off Rob Oakeshott.

And Liberal MP Lucy Wicks has retained Robertson.

In the days before the eleciton news.com.au's State of the Nation survey placed the Coalition ahead, however, with about 32 per cent saying the Coalition would get their vote, compared to 26 per cent for Labor.

Morrison has also consistently beaten Shorten in the polls as preferred PM, at 58 per cent in the State of the Nation survey compared with 42 per cent for Shorten.

Labor has repeatedly beaten the Coalition in Newspoll surveys, but its leader's approval ratings trailed behind. Last week's poll showed only 38 per cent of respondents thought Shorten would make the better PM to Morrison's 45 per cent, although 51 per cent backed Labor to 49 per cent supporting the Coalition in the two-party preferred vote.

It was a tight race, but the news is a huge blow for Shorten, who had worked hard to rehabilitate his image and appeared to grow in confidence during the campaign. His second election failure is almost certain to spell the end of his leadership, while Morrison will be relieved he has helped the Coalition edge over the line to return for a third term in government.

Morrison's landmark achievement up-ended almost all commentators' predictions, proving polls and general consensus are not always correct, following a pattern of recent global surprises — including the UK's Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as US President.

The Prime Minister repeatedly emphasised the Coalition's strength on the economy, promising income tax cuts and lower bills while playing down the threat of climate change.

Morrison was a controversial Immigration Minister under Tony Abbott after the 2013 election, implementing Operation Sovereign Borders before becoming Social Services Minister in a 2014 reshuffle. The MP for Cook in New South Wales was promoted to Treasurer when Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister in 2015, and stepped in as the compromise candidate after a Peter Dutton challenge in August 2018.

But it seems he has been underestimated. After nine months in the job, Morrison has been given the seal of approval by Australia.