Update (1940 pm IST): 77.1 per cent of vote counted - Coalition: 72, Labour: 70, Independents: 4, Green: 1
Canberra: Australia is headed for a topsy-turvy political future as a massive swing against Labour on the country's eastern seaboard looks set to make the Conservative Coalition the leading contenders to form a government in what will very likely be the country's first hung parliament since World War II.
Australian public broadcaster ABC says Labour MPs have been swept aside by swings of more than 9 per cent against them in former prime minister Kevin Rudd's home state of Queensland, and of more than 6 per cent in New South Wales. Both are Australia's most populous states.
With 74.3 per cent of the vote counted by 10.37 pm Australian time (1800 IST), the Coalition had inched ahead bagging 72 seats to Labour's 69. The winning party needs 76 to gain a majority in the 150 seat parliament.
The Greens had one seat and independents four and it is very likely that they will determine the outcome of government formation.
This is one of the closest Australian election contests in living memory and exerts have predicted a hung parliament. The last time Australia had a hung parliament was in 1940 and old timers recall that it ''was not a pleasant experience''.