screen grabs from ALP and Liberal videos of campaign launches
OVERVIEW: On Saturday 7 September 2013, Australians voted for a new Parliament. All 150 seats in the House of Representatives and 40 of the 76 seats in the Senate were at stake. Heading into the campaign, Labor held power with a minority government; the balance in the House was: Labor 71 seats, Liberal/National Coalition 72, Independent 5, Greens 1 and Katter's Australian Party 1, while the balance in the Senate was: Labor 31, Coalition 34, Greens 9, DLP 1 and Independent 1. The Australian Labor Party (ALP), in power since late 2007, was headed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd under the banner "A New Way for the Future." Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal Party since Dec. 2009, led the Coalition with the message "Choose real change...  A stronger Australia  A better future."

The last federal election, on 21 August 2010, set the stage for this campaign. Rudd served as prime minister from Dec. 2007 to June 2010, when he was forced to cede leadership of the ALP to Julia Gillard. The elections on 21 August gave no party a majority, but Gillard was able to form a minority government. Fast forward to June 2013.  Labor's election prospects appeared very dim. The Labor caucus rose up; Rudd won a leadership vote and reclaimed the prime ministership. 

Labor was a decided underdog in the campaign, in part because many voters were turned off by their intraparty dramatics. Major issues included the economy, the carbon tax, illegal immigration, and the National Broadband Network. In addition to the ALP and the Liberal/National coalition, the Greens and many other parties fielded candidates. Indeed, the Australian Electoral Commission reported that 54 political parties registered for the election, more than twice as many as for the 2010 election. 1,188 candidates nominated for the House of Representatives and 529 candidates nominated for the Senate. 

Of a total population of 23 million, over 14.7 million Australians were enrolled
(>). Voting is compulsory, and according to the AEC, over 13.7 million Australians (93.23 percent ) voted. These included over 1.1 million postal votes and over half a million pre-poll votes.

The result was a convincing win for the Liberals. The balance in the House went to Coalition 90, ALP 55, Greens 1, KAP 1, Palmer United Party 1 and Independents 2. The ALP lost 17 House seats including eight in New South Wales (>). Nationally the two party preferred vote showed a swing of 3.61 percent. The closest seat was in Fairfax (QLD), where billionaire Clive Palmer eked out a 53-vote margin. In the Senate, results were muddled. The Coalition did fall short of the 39 seats needed to pass legislation, and a number of smaller parties gained seats. After 1,370 ballot papers went missing in the West Australian Senate election, the AEC on 15 November filed a petition with the Court of Disputed Returns seeking to void that election; the Court will take up the matter in the new year. Newly elected Senators do not take office until July 1, 2014. 

Key Dates

30 January:  Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces 14 September 2013 as the election date.   

26 June:  Kevin Rudd wins leadership ballot by 57-45.

27 June:  Rudd succeeds Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.

4 August:  Prime Minister Rudd asks the Governor General Quentin Bryce to dissolve Parliament and calls for election on 7 September.

11 August:  First leaders' debate at the National Press Club in Canberra. >

20 August:  Early voting starts for those unable to vote on election day.

21 August:  SkyNews/Courier-Mail. leaders' debate at the Broncos Leagues Club in Brisbane.

25 August:  Opposition leader Tony Abbott formally launches the coalition campaign at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane.

28 August:  SkyNews People's Forum leaders' debate at Rooty Hill RSL Club in the Sydney suburbs. >

31 August:  Prime Minister Rudd formally launches the ALP campaign at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Brisbane.

7 September:  Election Day.  [Rudd | Abbott]