PRIME MINISTER:

Well good afternnoon.

Now like all of us, Australians would have no doubt preferred a clearer outcome last night but it will be a number of days before the Electoral Commission completes the count.

I remain quietly confident that a majority Coalition Government will be returned at this election when the counting is completed.

The Electoral Commission has advised that it will resume the counting of ballot papers on Tuesday.

Now the reason the result was not clear last night was that around a third of Australians voted in pre-polling or via a postal vote - a very high percentage and one that has been getting higher at each election. Now, a number of the pre-polls, the absentee votes and all the postal votes are yet to be fully counted. That will determine the result in as many as 12 undecided seats and there may be recounts in other close contests and I suspect that we will see seats moving from one side of the ledger to the other until the count is completed at the end of the week.

Now, as you know, our experience is that these postal votes and pre-poll votes indeed, traditionally favour Liberal and National Party candidates, especially when they are incumbents. So if that trend were to be manifest again here, that is likely to deliver majority government to the Coalition but time will tell. So we will have to await the outcome of the counting.

I want to pay tribute to the members that were not returned at this election. I have spoken to them today and I thank them and their families for their dedication and service to the nation. I welcome to the Parliament those candidates newly elected - very, very talented and outstanding Australians are joining the Parliament.

I know that, in addition, above all, Australians seek greater certainty, greater clarity, stability in their Government. While the count will take a number of days, probably until the end of next week - I can promise all Australians that we will dedicate our efforts to ensuring that the state of the new Parliament is resolved without division or rancour. The expectation is on all of us, especially me as Prime Minister, to get on with the job.

Australians have my absolute commitment, as Prime Minister, that I will be working to that goal. As I said in the campaign, only a few days ago, we need to demonstrate to Australians that their Parliament can work to achieve the outcomes this nation needs on the issues that matter to Australians. I believe there are aspects of this election result not finally counted but certainly apparent at this stage which demonstrate that Australians have an appetite for a step-up in political culture. They expect us to have a workable and effective Parliament, so we can get done what needs to be done.

Now my absolute focus as Prime Minister is on delivering for Australians, for the people of Australia, the certainty, the stability, the leadership that they need and they expect from their Government and from their Parliament.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister will you be reaching out to the crossbenchers in the lower house and in the upper house now we have the possibility of a hung parliament?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I have certainly spoken to many of the crossbenchers today. I have had a lot of telephone calls today, obviously with my colleagues who have been unsuccessful in the election, were not returned and colleagues whose fate is uncertain because the count is so close. I have spoken to many colleagues. I have spoken to a number of the crossbenchers and what I have said to them is what I say to you now that we remain confident we will be able to form a majority Government and in those circumstances or indeed, in any circumstances, we always seek to work constructively with all of the members of the Parliament - as indeed we have sought to do in the past.

JOURNALIST:

Does this political uncertainty place our AAA rating at risk? What are you and the Treasurer doing to prevent this affecting the markets?

PRIME MINISTER:

This is why it is very important - thanks Charles for that question - that is why it is very important for me to explain what is happening at the moment. We are simply going through a process of completing a count -

JOURNALISTS:

[all speaking]

PRIME MINISTER:

Excuse me, let me finish answering Charles. We are completing a count which will take a few more days. In the meantime time the Government is led, the Government is in operation, of course, the Caretaker Conventions apply. We will have a resolution by the end of the week. I have no doubt about that.

What we will do is ensure that we work constructively and effectively with all of the members of the new Parliament to ensure that we deliver the stability and the leadership that Australians expect.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister - [Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

Someone was talking over the top of you. Can you start again?

JOURNALIST:

On the point you were making, is a second election one possible outcome of a hung parliament or does your appeal to reconciliation here mean you are committed to making the Parliament Australians have now voted, work at all costs?

PRIME MINISTER

Well, let me say that the Parliament is elected by the Australian people. So it is their Parliament. We don't know the final composition of it at this stage, the counting has to be completed. When it is completed, as I said, we will work effectively, constructively, to ensure that we have a strong majority Government and we will work across the crossbenchers as well if we need to do so. But it is very important to recognise that this is the people's House. The people have chosen the members of the Parliament and we will work with all of them to deliver the stability and the leadership that Australians expect.

JOURNALIST:

No follow-up election Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are committed to ensuring that the Parliament as elected, will work effectively and constructively for the Australian people.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister you have lost at least three members of your frontbench and a Liberal Senator Chris Back has already told me he believes you should return Tony Abbott to the Ministry. Is that now on the table?

PRIME MINISTER:

All of these questions, these political questions are no doubt of great interest to you. My focus this week is on monitoring the count and –

JOURNALIST:

So you are not ruling it out Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

My focus is on –

JOURNALIST:

So you’re not ruling out returning Tony Abbott –

PRIME MINISTER:

The Ministry will be the same after the election, as it is now. We have lost a number of ministers – well, a number of ministers have not been returned, you are right but I am not proposing to bring back any particular individuals. I know you are very interested in that, the focus is on completing the count, on ensuring we know who is in the Parliament and then we can settle the form of the Government after that.

That is the critical thing. What we have to do first is count, recognise and respect the decision of the Australian people.

JOURNALIST:

Have you failed to deliver stability Prime Minister? That was your promise.

PRIME MINISTER:

The stability that will be delivered by the Parliament, will be assessed by all Australians after the Parliament is elected and after the formation of a majority Government, the formation of arrangements between Members of Parliament. It is absolutely critical that we complete the count, we identify who has been elected to the Parliament and then we will know. But right now, we need to recognise that the process is underway. There are, just to give you one example, there are over one million postal votes, the determination of which, or the choice of which, can determine a number of these seats that are very close. One million postal votes that have not been counted at all. So they are a complete unknown in that respect. There are a lot of votes that remain to be counted. The counting has to be complete but it is my commitment to the Australian people to do everything I can to ensure that the next Parliament serves them.

It's the Australian people's House. What we have to do is to make sure that the next Parliament serves the Australian people, constructively with stability, with leadership and with the vision that they expect. They have chosen the Parliament and it is our job now, once its members are determined, once its membership is determined, to ensure that we work with it as constructively and with as much stability as we can deliver.

Thank you very much.